ARKEN Museum of Modern Art is a monumental landmark surrounded by a manmade beachscape just south of Copenhagen. The museum showcases one of Scandinavia’s finest collections of contemporary art, and the maritime-inspired architecture has gained the museum international renown.
One of Denmark’s newest contemporary art museums, the ARKEN Museum of Modern Art was inaugurated on 15 March 1996 by Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II. Prior to this, years had been spent to ensure that this coastal location in Ishøj just south of Copenhagen would become a significant player in Danish cultural life.
The young architecture student, Søren Robert Lund, surprised the establishment by winning the design competition with a Deconstructivist museum, which resembled a giant beached ship.
The ship metaphor is also evident in the huge indoor gallery axis, which is shaped like a hull with tall, heavy doors of iron, exposed rivet-like bolts and metal staircases. This distinctive and bold design provides the framework for a large collection of contemporary art and special exhibitions.
The collections consist of more than 400 artworks, mainly by Danish, Nordic and international contemporary artists, primarily representing the period after 1990.
There are two underpinning themes: one about the human condition of modern man and the other about art that, via new materials, art forms and media, questions the very definition of art.
Distinguished exponents of both these subjects are the British “enfant terrible” Damien Hirst (b. 1965) and the German Anselm Reyle (b. 1970). Both are well represented at the museum with entire galleries dedicated to their works.
The controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (b. 1957) is represented with one of his major pieces: Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads from 2010. Danish and Nordic artists, such as Olafur Eliasson, Elmgreen and Dragset, Jeppe Hein and Tal R are also represented at the museum.
The Art Island
The initial idea was for ARKEN to be located on the beach, like a shipwreck. But this idea had to be abandoned for conservation reasons, and the museum was then moved inland.
A generous donation from the A.P.Møller and Hustru Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation for General Purposes, made the dream of surrounding ARKEN with water become a reality in 2016.
The sea has been moved closer to the museum and the surrounding nature is landscaped to create an ‘Art Island’ encompassed by water and with access to the museum via bridges.
This reconcile the museum’s distinctive maritime design with the coastal landscape, offering a unique architectural experience with references to a beached ship or arch replete with inspired modern art.
ARKEN’s distinctive ship’s architecture blends with its surroundings and creates a sensory frame around the art.
ARKEN’s exhibitions present Danish, Nordic and international art – from new, young talents to established names.
25 minutes from Copenhagen Central Station.
ARKEN ON THE ART ISLAND
Take a look at the museum's new surroundings.