Visit the Arken Museum of Modern Art near Copenhagen

The Arken Museum of Modern Art (Moderne Kunst) is a popular excursion from Copenhagen to see contemporary art (e.g. Damien Hirst and Ai Weiwei in the permanent collection) and world-class temporary exhibitions.

ARKENs exhibition space 2008 Photo by Lars Skaaning Museum Copenhagen
ARKENs exhibition space 2008 © Lars Skaaning

The Arken Museum of Modern Art (ARKEN Museum for Moderne Kunst) exhibits contemporary art by Danish, Nordic, and international artists. Although established names are always a major drawing card the museum also attempts to present new and young talent. The Arken is located on the seashore just outside Copenhagen and is easily reached by car or on public transportation.

The Arken Museum of Modern Art

The ARKEN Museum for Moderne Kunst has its own collection of more than 400 artworks but the two or three temporary exhibitions staged yearly are the main attractions. These exhibitions are thematic or artist specific. Exhibitions are mostly contemporary art but sometimes early-twentieth-century works are also displayed.

This large modern museum opened in 1996 but was doubled in size in 2008. It is in a modern building, shaped like a ship, or ark (arken in Danish), stranded on the beach. The original intention was to have the museum directly on the artificially created beach but for a variety of environmental reasons the museum is now on an island surrounded by an artificial lagoon. The sculpture garden around and near the museum expands continuously.

Highlights from the Arken Permanent Collection

Arken Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen

Some of the highlights of the Arken Museum’s own collection that is normally on permanent display include works by Damien Hirst, Clare Woods, Anselm Reyle, Jeppe Hein and Ai Weiwei. Large sculptures by Olafur Elisasson, Peter Bonnen, Lawrence Weiner and Øivind Nygård can be seen outside the museum.

Ai Weiwei and Damien Hirst are probably the most famous of the international artist with major works in the permanent collection of the Arken.

Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/ Zodiac Heads (2010) is a display of 12 animal heads from the Chinese zodiac. The twelve gold-plated bronze figures in the Arken are on long-term loan from The Frahm Collection, while a meter-tall size set is displayed in major cities around the world, e.g. Vienna in mid-2016.

The Damien Hirst room has several works by this famous British artist with the huge spot painting specifically created for this room. In addition to two half cows in formaldehyde tanks, a diamond-encrusted skull, and a statue of St Bartholomew, several large, colorful paintings are on display.

Several works by the German artist Anselm Reyle beg the question: Can bad taste be great art? How does cheap tat become valuable art?

Rock of the Night (2006) by Clare Woods is a large panting described as a psychologically created landscape of sinister wilderness. Visitors can get lost more physically in the spiral mirror maze of Jeppe Hein.

Visitors Information for the Arken Museum of Modern Art

Opening Hours of the Arken Museum

Arken in Denmark

The Arken Museum of Modern Art is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 17:00, closing at 21:00 on Wednesday. The museum is closed on Monday, except on some holidays.

The café, with wonderful views of the beach and sea, serves modern Danish cuisine. It may be used separately from the museum.

Admission Tickets to the Arken Museum

Museum tickets are DKK140, free for children up to 17 years old. No free days.

The Copenhagen Card covers both museum admission and transportation.

Transportation to the Arken Museum of Modern Art

Getting to the Arken Museum of Modern Art, Skovvej 100, 2635 Ishøj, tel: +45 43 54 02 22, is easy by car or on public transportation from Copenhagen.

The Arken Museum is around 20 km south of Copenhagen on the Køge bay. By car, take the E20 to exit 26, Ishøj. From the south or west of Copenhagen, exit the O4 at exit 6, Ishøj. Ample free parking is available at the museum, although on sunny days museum visitors may have to compete with beachgoers and outdoor enthusiasts.

The Arken Museum may also easily be reached on public transportation from Copenhagen. From Copenhagen main station, take an S-train line A towards Solrød/Hundigen or line E towards Køge and get off at Ishøj Station. From here, bus 128 goes directly to the Arken (bus fare is usually included in train ticket). Alternatively, it is a pleasant 20-minute walk to the museum.

More Modern Art in Copenhagen

A similar modern art gallery near Copenhagen is the famous Louisiana Museum of Modern Art toward the north of the city. In Copenhagen, modern and contemporary art may also be seen in the National Gallery of Denmark while the Ordrupgaard Museum in the northern suburbs of Copenhagen also often has modern art on display.

Henk Bekker in armor

About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance travel writer with over 20 years of experience writing online. He is particularly interested in history, art, and culture. He has lived most of his adult life in Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark. In addition to, he also owns a travel website on the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland and maintains statistical websites on car sales and classic car auction prices. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Development Finance from the University of London.

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