Sep 16 2011

The Louisiana Art Museum

In most Copenhagen guidebooks, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is placed in the list of 'top 10 musts', along with a haphazard collections of other 'must' items that includes smorrebrød (open-faced sandwiches), Fredericksborg Slot, the National Gallery, the main harbor of Nyhavn, Tivoli, and Danish design. A seemingly strange grouping, but in Lonely Planet's case, one that somehow manages to capture the essence of Copenhagen. Though of course, if you do visit Copenhagen, you should use your guidebook's list as reference, not gospel.

I somehow neglected to visit the Louisiana Art Museum when I lived in Copenhagen. I obviously didn't own a copy Lonely Planet Copenhagen! When I try to understand why I didn't visit this unique modern art museum that hugs the Øresund Sea, I have to remember life as a 20 year old college student. I penny pinched each day; in fact, I didn't even buy shampoo while I was abroad, somehow nursing a large bottle for my entire time in Denmark! Because money was so limited, I took advantage of free culture in the city, such as free museum Wednesdays, and saved "extra" money (I'm using that term generously) for excursions outside of the city, like the Cliffs of Møn, Roskilde, and other countries.

Not wanting to miss visiting this museum again, and with slightly more cash in hand eight years later, we took a regional train to the charming, lush suburb of Humlebaek and walked 3/4 of a mile to the Louisiana Art Museum. The museum unfolds in layers. You enter into a narrow reception area before branching either right or left. We chose left, walking through an impressive modern art collection (a massive Lichtenstein piece stands out in my mind) and stumbling onto a jovial book talk with Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story!

The beauty of the Louisiana Art Museum, besides its collection, is how seamlessly the museum merges its indoor and outdoor space. As you walk through the inside of the museum, the corridors frequently offer doors to the outside. I almost felt like I was doing something wrong when I opened one and just left the museum--I guess I'm too used to paying an entrance fee at a museum and then trying to get my money's worth by staying inside as long as possible.

At Louisiana, we exited and walked down a flight of steps to a large lake and several outdoor sculptures. We then re-entered the building and viewed a unique "Me Draw on Ipad" exhibit by David Hockney, before rounding the corner to a cafe that featured Lagkagehuset (a new favorite Copenhagen bakery!). Justin and I purchased tea and a decadent brownie and went out to sit with a view of the sea. A storm was quickly approaching. We soaked up the cool sea breeze, admiring the general calm of those sitting around us and the view of sailboats dotting the sea. As it began to rain, I dashed about to snap a few photographs of the sculptures, before we walked down to the water for a quick view of the sea, and scurried inside past a massive outdoor wood tree house sculpture (the sculpture was part of a huge series on 'Frontiers of Architecture' and entitled "My Home, My House, My Stilthouse", created by artist Arne Quinze).

When people ask me about my favorite parts of visiting Copenhagen, I have a difficult time answering. But if I were to write a Lonely Planet style "Top 10 list", the Louisiana Art Museum would definitely near the top of the list.