Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg – Alvar Aaalto

Kong Christians Allé 50, Aalborg
Jutland, Denmark
Email: kunsten@kunsten.dk
Phone: +45 99 82 41 00
Website: https://kunsten.dk/en
closed on: Mondays
Museum Type: Art
Kunsten Art Museum Aalborg, Alvar Aalto

The Kunsten Museum of Modern Art is a museum in the city of Aalborg, Northern Denmark. The iconic building of the museum was designed in the 1960s by famed Finnish architect Alvar Aalto.

Above, the Kunsten Museum in Aalborg, photo Allan Toft.

The museum was founded in 1879, as the Aalborg Museum of Art, to present mainly modern Danish art. In 1896, the institution moved to a new building, which currently houses the Aalborg Historical Museum, before organizing an architectural competition to design its permanent home in 1957; the proposal by Alvar Aalto, Elissa Aalto, and Jean-Jacques Baruël eventually won the competition. Meanwhile, the museum expanded substantially its collection of Danish modern art and acquired several works by international artists including Pablo Picasso, Le Corbusier, and Marc Chagall. In 1972, after changing its name to North Jutland Museum of Art, the institution relocated to the then recently completed building designed by Aalto; in 2002, it
changed again its name to Kunsten Museum of Modern Art Aalborg.
Between 2014 and 2016, the museum underwent a major restoration and renovation after a design by C.F. Møller Architects.

Aalto’s building
The 6,000-square-meter /  64,600-square-foot building designed by Alvar Aalto’s team consists of a sequence of concrete and wood boxes stacked on one another in a pyramid-like configuration. Aalto devised this peculiar shape to provide the museum with as much natural light as possible. To do not harm the artworks on display, daylight is mainly conveyed into the museum indirectly. After entering the museum through windows and skylights, daylight is filtered, reflected, and diffused by a number of carefully-positioned surfaces painted in white or clad with bright materials like the Carrara marble used for paving most of the gallery space and communal areas.
The building contains five galleries, with a total area of 2,500 square meters, a foyer, a cloakroom, a library, an auditorium, a cafe, a shop, offices, and workshops, as well as an open-air amphitheater and a sculpture park with works by Bjørn Nørgaard, Mogens Møller, Jeppe Hein, and Gunnar Aagaard Andersen. The galleries vary in shape, dimensions, and lighting to properly accommodate artworks of different styles, types, and sizes.

Kunsten Art Museum Aalborg Alvar Aalto exterior 1

View from the west; photo © Niels Fabaek.

Kunsten Art Museum Aalborg Alvar Aalto foyer

The foyer. Photo © Niels Fabaek.

Collection and exhibitions
The collection of the Kunsten museum comprises about 1,500 pieces, mostly by modern and contemporary Danish artists – including Vilhelm Lundstrøm, Jens Søndergaard, Erik Hoppe, Ejler Bille, Asger Jorn, Carl-Henning Pedersen, Richard Mortensen, and Kirsten Christensen -, and a smaller number of works by international artists, including Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Marc Chagall, and Michelangelo Pistoletto.
Pieces from the museum collection are usually displayed in semi-permanent thematic exhibitions.
The program of Kunsten Museum also features temporary exhibitions, talks, lectures, conferences, workshops, educational activities, and special events.

Kunsten Art Museum Aalborg Alvar Aalto main hall

The Main Hall. It is used for temporary exhibitions and large artworks. Photo © Rasmus Hjortshoj.

Kunsten Art Museum Aalborg Alvar Aalto small gallery

Kunsten Art Museum Aalborg Alvar Aalto sky-lit gallery

The Small Gallery and the Sky-lit Gallery. Photos © Rasmus Hjortshoj.

Kunsten Art Museum Aalborg Alvar Aalto library

The library of the museum was originally conceived by Aalto as a chamber music room. Photo © Rasmus Hjortshoj.

All images courtesy of Kunsten Museum of Modern Art Aalborg.

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copyright Inexhibit 2023 - ISSN: 2283-5474