A masterpiece of Danish
The unpretentiousness of Louisiana’s architecture will be the first thing that strikes you on a visit to the museum. The main entrance to the old patrician villa welcomes the visitors to an almost homelike atmosphere. From here the more recent extensions to the museum spread out on a single plane, close to the ground on what could be called ‘the human scale’ around the park and down to the Øresund. Louisiana today stands as a masterpiece of Danish modernist architecture. An architecture particularly famous for the way the new extensions have been added to the old main building all the way adapting to the beautiful park landscape with its trees, forest lake, lawns and the Øresund.
Expansions and modernization
of the Museum 1958-2006
Since Louisiana opened in 1958, new extensions have been added to keep pace with growing ambitions and the popularity of the place. Over the years there have been seven expansions:
Gradual expansions and the Concert Hall
In 1966 and 1971 the museum was gradually extended with the West Wing. Then in 1976 this was followed by the Concert Hall, whose acoustics and atmosphere make it particularly suitable for among other things chamber concerts. However, the hall is used for all kinds of music, and has always been the place where Louisiana has invited guests for debates, lectures and other ‘live’ events. The chairs in the Concert Hall were designed by Poul Kjærholm, and the end walls are decorated with two works created for the room by the American painter Sam Francis.
The South Wing
In 1982 the South Wing was built, and for many years it housed the museum’s own collection. With the South Wing Louisiana also acquired exhibition rooms with more ceiling height and spaciousness than the ones from the original buildings. The high rooms emphasize the qualities of the artworks, which thus have plenty of space around them and as much daylight as possible. The South Wing was built into the landscape to maintain Louisiana’s ‘low-lying’ look.
The East Wing
With the construction of the East Wing, which was completed in 1992, the buildings of the museum have been linked in a kind of circle. The ground plan of the museum has been significantly improved, and the visitor can go all the way round on a walk, sometimes concentrating on the artworks, sometimes relaxing and seeing the view of the park or the Øresund.
With the East Wing Louisiana is now fully fledged as a museum of modern art, since the extension enables us to exhibit drawings and prints that cannot be exposed to daylight. Because of the lighting conditions the East Wing is also often used for exhibitions of photographs, video and light art. The East Wing ends in the Large Hall, which lies as a multi-purpose room beneath the Calder Terrace outside the Museum Café.
Children’s House, Lake Garden, Museum Shop
In 1994 the Children’s House was built; it helps children and the young to develop close ties with the museum. Outside the landscape windows of the Children’s House lies the Lake Garden with its winding paths, steep slopes and architectural works by a number of international architects such as Ralph Erskine (UK), Joseph Paul Kleihues (D), Aldo Rossi (IT) and Dominique Perrault (FR). In 1998 an expansion was carried out to improve the museum’s facilities for the public. At the same time the area of Louisiana Shop was increased.
Louisiana’s architecture is justifiably famous for the discreet pavilions and semi-transparent glass corridors. However, this very closeness between the inside and outside public area, the exhibitions and the Sculpture Park, makes huge demands on security and air conditioning – to an extent that it would have been impossible to anticipate when the museum opened fifty years ago.
But Louisiana isn’t just a museum of modern art; it’s a modern museum of modern art. In order to continue to present the public with the very best works of the age, it is crucial that the house meets the strictest norms and requirements applicable today. So in 2003-2006 an extensive modernization was
carried out which, without affecting the aesthetic integrity and lightness of the buildings, has furnished Louisiana with all the technology appropriate to its activities and has safeguarded the museum as a meeting place for people and art far into the 21st century.
The hundreds of millions of kroner necessary for the modernization were secured through both private funding and an extraordinary subsidy from the Danish Ministry of Culture.