In Denmark, Exit through the Gift Shop

GIFT SHOP GUIDE

From beautiful coffee table books to high-concept Scandinavian accessories, the best of Danish design can be found behind the gallery hall. 

It’s the rare store that maintains an attraction for locals despite throngs of tourists. The museum gift shop is that unique place.

At one time, the objects sold in the museum only reflected the artworks within. Now these stores are fulfilling the same purpose as the most innovative interior design stores in their region.  The museum gift shops have moved on from tote bags and postcards into the domain of the boutique retail.

We’ve compiled the best of these dynamic stores in Denmark. These are the places where Larsen & Eriksen watches are in good, artistically iconic, company. 

THE GIFT SHOP

Unlike other boutiques, the gallery gift shop must reflect the ethos of their mother museum - their products echoing the experience of strolling through the main gallery.

Purchases from these stores feed directly back into the museum itself - funding exhibitions and the conservation of the permanent collections. In the United States, it is the gift shop that produces the greatest revenue for the museum industry.

This success is epitomised by the satellite gift store chain for New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Today, you can browse ‘The Met Store’ in The Queen Victoria Building in Sydney’s CBD and in a resort hotel in Bangkok.

For tourists, the museum gift shop must have a distinct sense of place - reflecting the city these visitors are exploring. For this demographic it’s a more sophisticated souvenir that the gallery gift shop must provide.

For locals, the gift shop serves an entirely different purpose. Regulars expect products at the vanguard of concept design, collections of the most beautiful publications and as well as inventive reproductions of the pieces within of the current exhibition.

photo from inside DAC

THE LARSEN& ERIKSEN INSTALLATION AT THE SHOP IN DANISH ARCHITECTURE CENTER FOCUSING ON PERSPECTIVES AND BUILD BLOCKS (PHOTO BY ZANE KRAUJINA)

To appease both groups, often these gallery shops divide their catalogue between appropriations of the most prominent art pieces in their permanent collection - see Mona Lisa on a mug - and entirely unique pieces from up-and-coming designers.

Some museums have even begun producing their own collections to international acclaim. Others commission artists and designers to produce pieces solely for the museum gift shop.

For young jewellery, fashion and product designers, appearing in the museum gift shop anoints their work as culturally important. In fact, Etsy has an entire how-to forum about getting your designs stocked in gift shops. 

For this holiday season, instead of pushing your way through crowds on the Strøget high street, head to hushed halls of Denmark’s best galleries. This is a list of recommendations in favour of adding an extra hour to your museum visit.

Danish Architecture Centre (DAC)

The Danish Architecture Centre brings architecture and urbanity inside the purview of a gallery space. The centre presents the history and development of Danish cities while also showcasing innovation in urbanity and industrial design through temporary exhibitions and talks.

Set in Copenhagen’s spectacular new BLOX building on the city’s harbour front the centre, in what is regarded as the city’s Culture District. It’s an exterior that indicates the content within. The centre’s existence at the intersection of architecture and art also makes for cutting edge selection in their Designshop.

Illu of DAC

THE DANISH ARCHITECTURE CENTER IS SITUATED IN THE BLOX BUILDING (ILLUSTRATION BY ZANE KRAUJINA)

The Designshop’s stock includes a large range of playful home accessories from Danish design studio Normann Copenhagen. Nomess stationary’s bold cork colour-blocking is also available for aesthetically pleasing sketching and journaling. Bang & Olufsen’s portable speakers made design objects are also on display in sleek and imposing force. Candy-coloured jewellery from Kyoto Tango and dreamily functional Fritz Hansen interior products are set next to the Larsen & Eriksen watch collections.

The Designshop at DAC also has an online store that makes perusal and purchasing even easier. 

ARoS Aarhus Art Museum

In the Danish city that’s often overlooked there’s a museum that should never be. The ARoS museum in Aarhus, Denmark’s second-largest city, best known to outsiders for its rainbow hued rim featuring on many an Instagram post. The 150 meter long panoramic path has 360º views of the surrounding city and was designed by the prolific artist Olafur Eliasson. Yet ARoS’s appeal goes well beyond its vibrant crown, in fact it is one of the largest museums in Northern Europe.

At street level, under the rainbow, there’s cafe and gift shop. Unlike other museum gift shops, the ARoS store is accessible without paying for museum entrance, so you may bypass the cultural capital for the retail appeal.

photo of aros

THE PERMANENT INSTALLATION YOUR RAINBOW PANORAMA BY OLAFUR ELIASSON ON TOP OF ARos ART MUSEUM IN AARHUS (PHOTO BY ANDERS TRÆRUP)

The eclectic store has over 3,000 books, - from elegant tomes for your coffee table, to bespoke literature and catalogues. There’s also a large range of interior décor objects and Scandinavian accessories that are at the forefront of design. You can even purchase a gift card so you don’t have to stress about picking wrong for your design-conscious friend.

After you’ve made your purchases head to ARoS WINE & FOOD located at the top of the museum and enjoy incredible views of the city and the bay.

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Spanning the two storeys of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art’s 1950s discrete modernist building is the Louisiana Butik. This is a gift shop as meticulously curated as the museum collection itself, so don’t feel guilty for spending equal time in each.

All design is Danish and is a tribute to the Scandinavian aesthetic. Innovative household objects, elegant functional furniture, independent magazines and art house tomes make up the collection. Danish ceramicists are particularly celebrated in the gift shop collection, with unique vessel designs from independent studios tricked across the two floors. 

photo of Louisiana view

THE STUNNING VIEW OVER ØRESUND FROM LOUISIANA MoMA (PHOTO BY ZANE KRAUJINA)

Next to the coffee table books and catalogues of posters, there is an entire room dedicated to clothing and accessories from Nordic designers. There’s bright prints from Danish fashion house Baum and Pferdgarten next to sophisticated leather goods from Royal Republiq.

Larsen & Eriksen’s recent collaboration with Louisiana MoMA indicates the energy of the Butik and the invention the museum inspires in Danish creatives. The Louisiana Collection’s design is a tribute to the graceful yet structured motifs and silhouettes of the gallery building.

2018 marked the museum’s 60th anniversary and in celebration they have re-released the posters from some of their most important exhibitions since 1958. Arne Jacobson’s 2002 primary coloured exhibition poster and the melancholy 1992 Edward Hopper exhibition poster are available again.

The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is situated thirty-five minutes by train from Copenhagen in the town of Humlebæk. So see the exhibition, buy the newest Scandinavian accessory, and then relax with a picnic on the rolling hills of the sculpture garden with views across the Oresund Strait to Sweden. Like the museum, you can shop the Louisiana Butik until 10pm on weekdays.

Trapholt

The Trapholt Museum is located on Denmark’s mainland of Jutland. It’s a museum made of collection of buildings akin to that of a sprawling farming estate. Permanent and temporary exhibitions showcase modern art, crafts and product design, with a particular focus on chronicling the development of Danish furniture design from the 20th century to present day.

Set in a beautiful sculpture garden that overlooks the Kolding Fjord, Trapholt’s grounds and buildings have become attractions in their own right; cutting across the spectrum of architectural styles. Arne Jacobson’s cube flex summer house is a centrepiece, but its stark angles are offset by the soft thatched roof of the gallery building next door.

photo from Trapholt

THE BOTTOM OF THE ROTUNDA AT TRAPHOLT MUSEUM OF MODERN ART AND DESIGN IS DEDICATED TO DANISH DESIGNED CHAIRS (PHOTO COURTESY OF TRAPHOLT)

The Trapholt Design Shop offers a similarly clever mix of modern interior objects and artisanal arts and crafts ideas and pieces. This is an original assortment from both Danish and international brands that feels hand-picked, collected slowly and carefully. A variety of design combinations from Larsen & Eriksen’s Absalon Collection are paired with Italian leather goods, silk scarves and jewellery created by Danish goldsmiths. Alongside the requisite selection of postcards and posters, there’s an enormous bookshelf with literature and coffee-table books that beautifully chart furniture design.