Skip to main content
  1. blog/

Denmark Diaries: Visit by my Parents

Last week I was a part-time student and full-time city guide: on the one hand, regular lectures started at the University of Copenhagen and on the other hand, my family was visiting Copenhagen.

As the first session of every university event usually consists largely of a presentation of the same, it was easy to combine the two: I went to the university in the morning to listen to general information about the Danish welfare state, the EU and diplomacy, and then explored the city. In addition to the classic sights (the Little Mermaid, Nyhavn, Christiania), the programme also included some less well-known activities: I think the view from the Vor Frelsers Kirke is quite spectacular (see last post) and we walked through the many small side streets in Christiania far away from “Pusher Street”.

We also took a day to drive to Humlebæk. This rather quiet little town north of Copenhagen is home to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (named not after the US state, but after a woman, Louise). The individual wings of the museum are magnificently situated in the hills that slope gently down to the sea, you have a fantastic view of the water and as far as Sweden and can take an incredibly relaxing stroll through the sculpture garden (see here, for example).

I haven’t really warmed to modern art yet - some things totally fascinate me, others I don’t understand at all and just walk past. That was also the case in Louisiana: I stopped for a long time at some of the Giacometti sculptures and kept getting stuck at the Nolde exhibition, but sometimes I just walked through an entire wing of the museum.

A few days before our visit, the “Riverbed” exhibition by Ólafur Éliasson had just opened in Louisiana: In one wing of the museum, Icelandic rubble and an artificial riverbed had been piled up several metres high. When you walk through the rubble, everything suddenly feels very calm - a very strange effect. (But again, I didn’t really understand it)

Riverbed by Ólafur Éliasson at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Riverbed by Ólafur Éliasson at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

In addition to “Riverbed”, there were several other works by Éliasson that I found really exciting: for example, there were several films dealing with movement. In one of them, a van with a large mirrored windscreen on the side drives through Berlin and the camera follows it. You usually see the reflection of the city in the mirror in one part of the image and the “actual” city in another part - and there are always moments of amazement when you don’t know which part is which for a moment (or when the mirror starts to swing because the van starts moving, for example). Another film is about movements under the microscope in Éliasson’s Berlin studio - and here, too, it is always amazing when a person simply moves as normal, while all the other actors concentrate incredibly on every single detail of their movements. (In the end I also stayed longer with Éliasson’s books, his cookery book in particular was fascinating.)

In the end, we spent over 6 hours in Louisiana and simply couldn’t take in anything new. Our eyes had seen too much and while we had been looking forward to the museum shop in the morning, which was actually pretty great, we only spent a short time scurrying around in the evening and didn’t really feel like looking at any more things. I’ve never spent a whole day in a relaxed atmosphere in an art museum before - but it’s definitely worth repeating. (I’ve already bought my annual pass, as I’ve already decided that I’ll be back for another visit)