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Louisiana Purchase That's Modern Danish Art

September 22, 1985|BETTY LUKAS | Lukas is a Times copy editor

HUMLEBAEK, Denmark — When you tire of Copenhagen's Tivoli, are all shopped out at the Stroget and have hugged that famous mermaid for the camera, maybe it's time for a short train trip out of town.

Maybe it's time for art.

A museum in North Zealand, that pastoral, picturesque collection of forests, farmlands and summer homes just north of here, is worth every second of your 30-minute journey, even if you don't fancy modern art.

The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art can be easily overlooked by the traveler because Copenhagen has so many inviting museums.

But the Louisiana is not one to overlook. It's in a spacious park shaded by weeping old trees that frame a small lake. The museum is a comfortable blend of traditional and contemporary architecture set among spreads of rolling grass that overlook the narrow Oresund between Denmark and Sweden.

It's a lovely place for a picnic on the lawn among the Calder and Henry Moore sculptures. And beyond are the sailboats and ferries plying their courses on the sound. There's even a pebbly beach and small pier below the lawn that invite inspection and browsing.

Artistic Excitement

Enthusiasm for the outside in no way diminishes the artistic excitement inside the sprawling multilevel building that started life in 1855 as a manor house belonging to Master of the Royal Hunt Alexander Brun. He called it Louisiana in tribute to each of his three (successive) wives, all of whom were named Louise.

When the museum opened in 1958, founder Knud W. Jensen and other museum officials saw no reason to change the name.

Gracefully expanded five times, most recently in 1982, the museum spreads its two contemporary-style wings toward the sea, like arms opened for an embrace.

The galleries, flanked on one side by glass walls that welcome the views outside, contain some of the most impressive work of the 20th Century, including Sam Francis, Frank Stella, Man Ray, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol.

Warhol's classic multiple exposures blowup of Marilyn Monroe's unforgettable face is here. So are several examples of Giacometti's evocative elongated sculptures. One whole gallery is devoted to his work. These are part of the permanent collection.

The exhibitions change, of course, and the visitor can easily spend an entire day browsing through the museum and, if you don't bring a picnic lunch, dining in an exquisitely appointed cafeteria, which offers both inside and terrace service.

Musical and film programs are scheduled regularly in a small auditorium, and a reading room with a sweeping view of the sound is an ideal retreat. Racks of art magazines line one whole wall.

There's also a fine shop selling books, reproductions, posters and post cards.

10-Minute Walk

A train from Copenhagen's Central Station takes 36 minutes to reach the village of Humlebaek, a 10-minute walk from the museum. Ask for the special discount ticket that includes the museum entrance fee. (The round-trip package costs $4.50.) Then pack your lunch and get on the train, and don't forget the camera.

Tip: If you arrive when the Louisiana opens--10 a.m. daily, all year--you'll avoid the crowds that tend to arrive about 1 p.m. If you drive, you can take route E4 north or the two-lane picturesque coastal road Strandvejen that runs next to the beach and leads directly to the museum. There's a free parking lot across from the entrance.

The museum is open until 5 p.m. daily, except on Wednesday when you can stay until 10 p.m. And maybe catch a concert.

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