As a guest, you can experience contemporary art in many different forms. Behind the scenes, we conduct research in contemporary art and relevant museological themes so we can create the most relevant, enlightened and stimulating museum for you. Read more about selected current and completed projects here.

Olafur Eliasson, Atlantis, 2003
Olafur Eliasson, Atlantis, 2003

Rewilding the Museum

We live in a age characterised by reassessment of the distinction between nature and culture. As a result, the artistic gaze moves beyond the exhibition space to consider the state of the planet. From rock strata to ice cores, wastelands to wilderness, we have come to perceive the earth as a collection of signs to be studied, described, categorised, preserved or restored. This perspective implies an expanded curatorial mandate that extends beyond the walls of the museum: Earth can be viewed as a 'total exhibition' in its own right, and we're investigating this in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen (formerly the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts) in the research project Rewilding the Museum, made possible with funding from the New Carlsberg Foundation. Philosopher and curator Dehlia Hannah is attached to the three-year project, which began in April 2021. The project examines the concrete, material consequences of our conceptions of the outside world, because our images of 'nature' frame how we live in the world. At a time when our notions of the world around us are being challenged, art is moving into deep waters: away from the exhibition space, out into the world and into difficult terrain. Meanwhile, the artists work with the remnants of modernity, with the vast accumulations of plastic waste in the world's oceans, with burning forests and palm oil plantations. Rewilding is about returning ecosystems to a wild or natural state. It involves the complex retrospective and potential accumulation of nature with varying degrees of human involvement. Without distinguishing between the artificial forms and practices used in the arts and sciences, Rewilding the Museum examines how 'environments' are represented, communicated about and produced inside and outside the exhibition space today. In 2022, ARKEN and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts hosted the Rewilding the Museum conference, which focused on the role of museums in the ecological crisis. Read more about the conference here. Picture: Olafur Eliasson, Atlantis, 2003

Astrid Myntekær, Mana Stash, 2016 (detail). Photo: David Stjernholm
Astrid Myntekær, Mana Stash, 2016 (detail). Photo: David Stjernholm

From Dust Grains to the Cosmos

How do we understand the human condition in the face of climate crisis and speculation about the possible extinction of humanity? What is the relationship between man, nature and technology — now and in the future? Perhaps art can help us understand the concept of 'human' as something at once biological, cognitive, cultural and ethical? And perhaps art can inspire us to rethink the temporal scale by which we measure our own existence in the world relative to -- a geological, biological, historical, technological or mythological scale? ARKEN investigated this in the research project From Dust Grains to the Cosmos: The Human in Change interpreted through works in ARKEN's collection. The project was funded by the Research Committee of the Danish Ministry of Culture. Aesthetics and culture researcher Anne Kølbæk Iversen was attached to the museum as a postdoc in 2020 to investigate how, in a time of climate crisis and the continued development of bio and genetic technology, there is growing interest in what can be defined as the concept of 'human'. The project was based on works by Lea Porsager, Astrid Myntekær, Amalie Smith, Tue Greenfort, Nanna Debois Buhl and Patricia Piccinini from ARKEN's collection.

Karoline H Larsen Joint Lanyard Track 2015.-Vejleaåparken Ishøj. Photo Mathias-Vejerslev
Photo: Mathias Vejerslev

Participation: Dogma and field of potentials

Netflix, HBO, Spotify. These are just some of the services that we media consumers use when we aren't busy on social media sharing, liking, and posting messages and pictures. And when we go to the theatre or to a museum, we are also increasingly positioned as 'users'. The viewer, the listener, the exhibition guest, the reader has become a 'participant' — an active co-creator of content — and the participatory principle of both cultural consumption and cultural production. This was the background for ARKEN's research project on participatory culture, funded by the Research Committee of the Danish Ministry of Culture (2014-2016). The project set out to shed light on opportunities and challenges in participation as a principle and examine how participation is expressed within different discourses, as well as how it occurs in the museum and in contemporary art practices. The research is published in ARKEN Bulletin: The Art of Taking Part, vol. 7,2017. As part of the research project, the museum hosted the seminar 'Participation: Seminar on art, subjectivity and knowledge in a participatory culture' on 19 June 2015.

The Model Palle Nielsen
The Model Palle Nielsen

The Model: Palle Nielsen

Play, participation and relational aesthetics are central concepts in ARKEN's research-based online publication on Palle Nielsen's reinterpretation of The Model at ARKEN in 2014. The groundbreaking work, a gigantic playground for children, was first erected in 1968 at Moderna Museet in Stockholm. In connection with the reconstruction, The Model 1968/2014 was acquired for our collection and documented in a publication: Three new texts approach The Model 2014 from the perspectives of curator, art historian and play researcher. What kind of participation is unfolding in The Model today? How has utopia evolved since 1968? And what are the sensory forces at play that give The Model its formative potential as a playground? In addition, the publication contains an interview with Palle Nielsen as well as several pieces written by him, both reprinted and previously unpublished. Finally, this publication provides a comprehensive biography of the artist for the first time. The online publication also documents The Model as an exhibition with a wealth of photographs taken by both professional and amateur photographers as well as collected from social media. The exhibition and catalogue were realised with funding from the Nordea Foundation. Download the publication here (best read in Adobe Acrobat)

Photo: Torben Petersen

The Citizenship Project

Are art museums for everyone? ARKEN, together with nine other museums and cultural institutions, has spent four years investigating how we can work with and contribute to cultural citizenship in exhibitions, dissemination and organisational development. The title of this research project is 'Museums and cultural institutions as spaces for citizenship', which in the period 2009-13 provided a framework for case studies in education and exhibitions by international researchers. At the same time, the project included a series of learning days, during which the project participants from the ten institutions participated in competence development combined with theoretical and practical learning processes with the democratic potential of museums and cultural institutions as a focal point. The project was made possible with funding by the Danish Agency of Culture, and in 2014 the Citizenship Project was documented with the publication of the anthology “Room for Citizenship” with articles by international researchers and project participants.