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Ordrupgaard: A Museum for Collectors in Denmark

Published on , by Virginie Chuimer-Layen

After over three years of work, the Danish museum has reopened with a new extension housing its Impressionist works. It is the perfect occasion to look at an institution famous for both its French and Scandinavian collections and its architecture.

Snøhetta's partly underground extension, linking Zaha Hadid's pavilion with the original... Ordrupgaard: A Museum for Collectors in Denmark

Snøhetta's partly underground extension, linking Zaha Hadid's pavilion with the original building.
© Laura Stamer

In 1918, Wilhelm Hansen (1868-1936), the head of the Hafnia Insurance Company and a keen art lover, moved with his wife Henny and their son Knud to Charlottenlund, six miles north of Copenhagen. They set up home in a bourgeois neoclassical mansion typical of the time, built for them by the fashionable architect Gotfred Tvede (1863-1947). Lying in the heart of the forest park of Jægersborg Dyrehave, the two-story mansion, with its numerous windows letting in natural light and splendid winter garden, soon proved too small to house Hansen's paintings. An adjoining gallery was built by Tvede to accommodate this private collection, which he opened to the public once a week. "When they arrived, Wilhelm Hansen and his wife wanted to share their collection with a large number of people in their home," says the museum's director Anne-Birgitte Fonsmark. Despite a few upheavals, the collection grew steadily. Hansen died in 1936, leaving 150-odd 19th and early 20th-century French artworks and a fine collection of Danish paintings from the same period. His widow bequeathed all this to the State in 1951, along with the manor. In 1953, Ordrupgaard officially became a national museum. Zaha Hadid and a New Experience of Space During the 20th century, the museum needed more space to host demanding temporary exhibitions," says the director. "Before 2005, we had to move…
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