ARKEN Museum of Modern Art was opened on 15 March 1996 by Her Majesty Queen Margrethe. ARKEN lies like a great sculpture overlooking Køge Bay. The museum’s architecture interplays with its maritime surroundings and is motivated by the lines of the landscape. One of the building’s main axes runs parallel with Skovvej whereas the other follows the coastline. ARKEN’s lines reach into the landscape like long arms anchoring the museum to the site and inviting the guests inside.
The architect behind ARKEN, Søren Robert Lund, worked with the ship as metaphor for his edifice. The museum was placed as a ship, with a stem and sails, by the edge of the sea. ARKEN opened in 1996. The museum invited the visitors inside – to a completely different experience than the one that met them outside. Where the exterior of the museum derived inspiration from the surrounding landscape, a completely different experience awaited inside. From an outer landscape the visitors walked into an inner landscape which, with its slanted angles, high-ceilinged rooms, metal stairs and smooth walls, resembled a ferry or a large cruise ship where many functions were collected under one roof: gallery space, café, shop etc.
Subsequently ARKEN has undergone two extensions. The first one, in 2008, provided more space for the art whereas the 2009 extension improved the facilities for the visitors. At the most recent extension the entrance was changed so that the museum opened up to the world, giving the visitors a glimpse of the experience that awaits them; and ARKEN’s sails were dismantled.
ARKEN collects Danish, Nordic and international art with special emphasis on contemporary art, i.e. works from 1990 onwards. There are two unifying principles in the collection: one is art concerned with the existence of modern man, the other focuses on art that via new forms, materials and media explores the very definition of art. A visit at ARKEN should be an aesthetic, emotional and intellectual challenge. With the collection we wish to show Danish art in a broader context, presenting our guests with an insight into the international art scene. ARKEN wishes the encounter with the museum’s collection to provide something to reflect upon, making us understand ourselves and our times better.