The Louisiana near Copenhagen is Denmark’s most famous modern art museum. The gallery is a popular day-trip destination en route to Hamlet’s castle in Helsingør.
The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark is one of the world’s most important museums of modern art. The variety of galleries here is used to display works from the museum’s large permanent collection, as well as for vast temporary exhibitions of major international artists or themes. The landscaped sculpture garden is welcoming in all weather conditions. It is beautifully located directly on the seashore with fine views of the Oresund sound and Sweden. The Louisiana is a popular day-trip destination from Copenhagen and is often combined with seeing Hamlet’s castle in Helsingør (Elsinore) — note the long opening hours on weekdays.
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art near Copenhagen is one of the most important modern art museums in the world. It exhibits mostly modern art from the mid-twentieth century to the present from its own extensive collection and a variety of temporary exhibitions.
The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art has no links to the US state with the same name. The museum was named after the old villa in which the museum was created in 1958. The first owner of the property, Alexander Brun, married three times, and all three wives were called Louise.
The museum in its current form was completed in 1991. It is a wonderful synthesis of architecture, art, gardening, and landscape. It is beautifully located directly on the shores of the Øre Sound (Øresund) and overlooks the sea and Sweden.
Exhibitions in the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
The exhibitions in the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art may be divided into three main groups: the museum’s own collection, temporary exhibitions, and the sculpture garden. The museum loves to move works around so few items are positioned permanently even in the permanent displays.
Temporary Exhibitions at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art has six to ten major temporary exhibitions each year. These may range from large single works to major retrospectives or themed exhibitions of the museum’s own and loaned works.
These temporary exhibitions are a major component of the museum making it sensible to time visits to when several are shown simultaneously.
The Permanent Collection of the Louisiana
The permanent collection of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art consists of over 3,500 works, mostly from the period post-1950. It has never been the museum’s intention to give a chronological line of modern art but rather to focus on the following groups of works and artists:
- European Art after 1945, especially Nouveau Realisme and Constructivism
- American Art after 1945, including pop art, minimalism and color field
- Danish Modern Art – the original aim of the museum before changing to promoting international art in Denmark
- Contemporary Art from 1990 onwards, including video
- Twentieth-century sculptures
The works on display rotate frequently but the significant collection of Alberto Giacometti sculptures and Danish artist Asger Jorn’s painting are semi-permanently on display, as is the hugely popular Gleaming Lights of the Soul installation by Yayoi Kusama.
In complete contrast is the Wessel Bagge Collection that was donated to the Louisiana in 2001. This collection consists of more than 450 Pre-Columbian artifacts that are displayed in the light pavilion.
The Sculpture Garden of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
A highlight of a visit to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is the wonderful sculpture park in the extensive gardens of the museum. Around 60 large sculptures are on display.
Some works are best seen from inside the museum but it is worth exploring the garden in all weather to see these works at their best, especially works like Henry Moore’s Reclining Figure No. 5 (Seagram) that has the waves and boat on the sound as constantly changing background.
Amongst the other artists represented in the garden are Arp, Calder, Max Ernst, Heerup, Miró, and Moore while Serra, Trakas, Cucchi, and Karavan have created site-specific sculptures for the Louisiana Park.
A mobile guide to the park is available for download at the museum’s website or audio guides may be loaned. (Free fast wifi in the museum.)
Visitors Information for the Louisiana Art Museum near Copenhagen
Opening Hours of the Louisiana Museum
The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is open Tuesday to Friday from 11:00 to 22:00 and on weekends from 11:000 to 18:00. The museum is closed on Monday but opens if a public holiday (except Christmas and New Year).
The museum is hugely popular, especially on weekends, making early arrivals or evening visits sensible.
Admission Tickets for Louisiana
Tickets for the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art are DKK145 for adults and free for children under 18. There are no free admission days.
The Copenhagen Card is valid and covers both admission and transportation.
Small discounts may be available when combining museum entrance with public transportation – ask at ferry and railway ticket offices.
The price is not changed when part of the museum is closed making it sensible to visit when major temporary exhibitions overlap.
The museum café serves small meals or buffet lunches and dinners. The cuisine is typical modern Danish.
In typical Danish fashion, picnicking is allowed in parts of the garden – many locals bring their own supplies.
The large gift shop is pricey but does sell quality items.
Descriptions in the museum are in English and Danish – the availability of further guides depends on the specific exhibition. Photography of the permanent collection is allowed but do note that artworks only enter public domain 70 years after the death of the artist.
Transportation to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Getting to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Gammel Strandvej 13, 3050 Humlebæk, tel. +45 49 19 07 19, is easy by car or public transportation from Copenhagen.
The Louisiana is around 35 km north of Copenhagen – follow the A47/E55 towards Helsingør and use exit 5, Humlebæk. Using the coastal road – Strandvej – is a more interesting road but slow and best used on the return drive but expect lots of cyclists when the weather is not too windy. The free parking lots at the museum fill up fast – alternative parking is ten minutes away in Humlebæk center.
By train, traveling time is around 35 minutes from Copenhagen Central Station to Humlebæk station on trains heading towards Helsingør. From here, it is a pleasant ten-minute walk to the Louisiana Museum, or use bus 388 to stop Humlebæk Strandvej, Louisiana. (Bus fare usually included in the train ticket.)
Further Sights near Louisiana
A visit to Louisiana can easily be combined with a trip to Helsingør – it is on the same railway line (10 minutes) or a quick 10 km drive – follow the seashore road. Bus 388 takes around 20 minutes to Helsingør and may be a simpler option than taking the train – use stop Kulturværftet (Allegade) in Helsingør if heading to Hamlet’s castle.
Louisiana is also an easy drive from Frederiksborg Slot – the largest Renaissance castle in Scandinavia with the wonderful National History Museum. By train, backtrack to Hellerup in northern Copenhagen, or change trains in Helsingør.
Helsingør, Frederiksborg Slot, and the Karen Blixen Museum are easy to combine on a day trip with the Louisiana — though probably best not all on the same day! For a similar art experience, the Arken Museum to the southwest of Copenhagen is another modern art museum near the Danish capital. The National Gallery in Copenhagen and the Design Museum of Denmark have very large collections of modern art, especially by Danish artists.