Visiting Copenhagen, Ishøj, and Humlebaek from October 26 to November 03, 2019.
In October, I left my job at Google to start a new role at the New York Times. I only had a week off in between jobs, but I wanted to make good use of it. Thus far, 2019 had taken me to Australia, Israel and Jerusalem, Japan, and Chile. By all accounts, I was sick of international travel, if such a thing is possible. I was grateful for the privilege to be able to travel to these amazing countries, and glad to have the time off, but part of me just wanted to stay home.
And then, my better instincts kicked in. Instead of spending a week backpacking around a dozen cities in Asia or trekking through the wilderness in Central America, I decided to spend my entire week in Copenhagen. The goal was not to see everything, or maximize my time in northern Europe. (Many friends suggested visiting Denmark, Sweden, and Norway in one go.) Instead, my focus was on enjoyment, a relaxed pace, and recuperation that would clear the slate for my new job.
Copenhagen had a lot to offer that I was excited about. From architecture and design to history and art, the museums and cultural centers in Copenhagen were what drew me in most directly. I was also interested to experience firsthand the progressive civic design of the city; Copenhagen is famous for its bike lanes and walkability. So, after wrapping up things at Google and a day trip to Maryland for my cousin's wedding, I hopped on the train to JFK.
My trip started with a flight through Amsterdam into Copenhagen. Getting into the city from the airport was a breeze, with a swipe of the Copenhagen Card I purchased online following recommendations from friends. The Copenhagen Card, grants tourists unlimited use of the public transportation and free passes to almost all museums and tourist destinations. It was more than worth the price for my six-day stay. Every single museum I visited was covered for free, as were other attractions like Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen's famous amusement park.
After dropping off my bags, I wandered off into the city to explore.
Copenhagen flaunts a beautiful mix of the old world and the new. Here, bicycles and electric scooters lean against a stunning ivy-clad brick wall. The ivy has to be manicured, right?
Copenhagen's riverfront is home to several beautiful pieces of modern architecture. I especially love the bold design of Blox (left), the building that houses the Danish Architecture Center.
The Danish Architecture Center had a brilliant photography exhibit of the work of Bjarke Ingels Group, the legendary Danish architecture firm. In New York, BIG is known for their work on 57 W 57th St. and 2 World Trade Center.
Across the river, Cirkelbroen is a fantastic example of art in architecture. The ship-like appearance of this footbridge has no functional purpose other than delight and beauty.
I didn't spend much time in the touristy Nyhavn canal, but I did love the view of these magnificent boats!
I spent much of the next few days visiting museums in Copenhagen. Across several visits, it was my first impression really stuck with me: density! From history to art and design, I found that many museums in Copenhagen offered an overwhelming number of pieces in a small space. While perhaps detracting from the interest or impact of any individual piece, the density of these collections led me to slow the pace at which I moved through the museum.
The Danish National Museum's Chinese ceramic collection stood out.
Left: Arctic garb and tools. Right: African art and artifacts.
The first room of the Danish Museum of Art & Design held a lot of variety in one space.
The Design Museum had an entire hallway full of chairs from Danish designers, and others.
I liked being able to both see real chairs and read about chair design in a nearby lounge.
I want all of these in my kitchen!
This exhibit on Danish poster design was fantastic. I especially like Per Arnoldi's posters for Lincoln Center (left).
After visiting the Design Museum, I walked a few blocks to St Albans Church.
The church is especially beautiful from across the moat of the Kastellet.
Headed to the Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK), I walked through Østre Anlæg Park.
A massive head occupies the center of the SMK's central hall.
Zattere, Burano, San Michele by Richard Mortensen.
I love the drama of these landscape pieces, which range from 17th to 19th century. SMK had a great collection of Danish, French, other European art.
SMK built an extension for modern and contemporary art. This massive space, with bridges connecting the second floors, is an indoor atrium between the old (left) and new (right) buildings.
I love this collection of Isamu Noguchi's lanterns, hanging in SMK's atrium.
I didn't come to Copenhagen for food specifically, but was pleased with what I found. From hotel breakfast to fine dining, bread and butter to waffles, donuts to smørrebrød, I wasn't disappointed.
Some of my favorite dishes throughout the trip.
As the week moved on, I found that the contrast between old and new in Copenhagen kept each day exciting. Art installations next to centuries old castles and museums meant that I had the freedom to curate my desired balance throughout the day.
Superkilen, a public park made in collaboration with Bjarke Ingels Group, was fun to walk through.
Apart from the famous "hump" pictured above, I also enjoyed the chess tables (left) and other sculptures (right).
Rosenborg Castle features an impressive throne room.
This model ship, part of the Rosenborg Castle collection, is carved from ivory.
Left: "The Glass Room" in Rosenborg Castle. Right: A collection of model soldiers, for the young prince to play with.
In central Copenhagen, the Round Tower has a sloped spiral ramp that climbs several stories to an observation deck.
The view from the Round Tower let me capture the mix of old and new-world architecture in Copenhagen.
South, across Copenhagen Harbor sits the Church of Our Saviour. The top of its spiral tower was my destination.
Sunset from the spiral.
I caught these beautiful shots of Copenhagen at golden hour.
I pointed my camera straight down to capture this photo from the top of Church of Our Saviour.
From the Church of Our Saviour, I took a bus to the cisterns in Søndermarken, an underground art venue (literally). Originally a working cistern but later put out of use, it has been transformed into an event space and art gallery. I arrived after the sun set and descended into the dark, subterranean space. With little other context, I was told to take off my shoes and put on rain boots. The floor was flooded, they said.
I changed into rain boots in a creepy, laboratory-esque changing room. Proceeding deeper into the cisterns, I explored the dark, flooded space.
At the end of the exhibit, a blue-purple light shone bright from a final room. The neon sign, which read "IT IS NOT THE END OF THE WORLD" brought the installation's message to the fore: Climate change is real, unstoppable, and will not end the world. Although it might end us.
After several days in Copenhagen, I decided to take a short trip west to Ishøj, a coastal town home to the ARKEN Museum for Moderne Kunst. Only 30 minutes by express train, Ishøj was incredibly easy to access. The museum, high on my list, was free to enter with the Copenhagen card, just like the train had been. While the collection was quite small, I found several works that I spent a long time with.
The building's silhouette is expertly crafted. It sits on a marshland that reflects its shape.
ARKEN makes excellent use of light, both with outdoor pieces and indoor galleries.
My favorite piece by far was the Circle of Animals by Ai Weiwei. These golden recreations of the twelve animals in the Chinese Zodiac is a commentary on Chinese pride, repatriation, and reproductions. The craft on these works is stunning.
When I first arrived in Copenhagen, the thing I wanted most was to take a train to Humlebaek for a day and visit the Louisiana Museum. In an effort to save the best for last, I waiting until Friday to make my trip north from Copenhagen. I'm glad I did. The Louisiana museum offered a beautifully architected grounds and museum as well as compelling exhibitions.
The entry to the Louisiana Museum is very humble; domestic. It reflects the museum's roots as a suburban estate.
Inside, the Louisiana pulls out all the stops. I live for this glassed-in greenhouse / passageway.
Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao is influenced by the traditional culture of her country. These displays showcase the objects that inspire her work.
In a large diorama, Bilbao's work is displayed in a series of scale models.
In an adjacent gallery, full-size installations curated by the architect capture three scenes: city, ruins, and domicile.
I love how the natural light enters the gallery though the stepped ceiling.
A beautiful painting by Asger Jorn.
Light floods into the lake gallery, which contains works by Alberto Giacometti.
Left: A veiw out onto the lake. Right: A view of the gallery from the outside.
From an adjacent hallway, I walked outside and down to the lake.
The pathways around the lake were fun to explore.
Marsden Hartley was on exhibit in a multi-level gallery.
The hallways connecting the galleries at Louisiana offered welcome respite from the stark exhibition spaces. I love the mid-century modern design of this hallway. The ceiling extends "beyond" the glass walls, creating a feeling of being outside.
This Richard Serra piece, created for Louisiana, opens up onto a green lawn and the sea.
Returning to Copenhagen
After a fulfilling week and a full day in Humlebaek at the Louisiana Museum, I returned to Copenhagen for my last full day. Remaining on my list were the stragglers: visits I hadn't gotten around to during the week but had as backup options. Little did I know, my last day would be one of my favorites in Copenhagen.
My first stop was the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, an art museum in central Copenhagen. I arrived right before the museum opened, and without any bags to check, I was one of the first people into the building. My reward was some fantastic pictures of the exhibitions and atrium before they flooded with visitors.
The Glyptotek fans out from a central atrium that is decorated with lush tropical plants.
Later in my visit, I got these photos of the atrium from other angles.
This impressive hall is done in a Roman style.
The Glyptotek has an extensive collection of Danish sculpture from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. As these sculptures are newer, they were also in much better condition than many pieces in this style.
The curation of these sculpture galleries was fantastic. The range of characters and poses creates an impressive tableau.
I love how the layout of the sculptures draws your eye towards the statue of Jesus in the back.
Although the majority of Glyptotek's works are from Denmark, there were many pieces from other origins.
I love the dramatic stairs leading to this cloaked figure made of marble.
My next stop was at the Thorvaldsens Museum. If I had even remotely done my homework, I would have known that Bertel Thorvaldsen, a Danish sculptor was one of the best working in Rome at the turn of the 19th century. I was about to see more amazing sculpture!