Brandts Former factory turned museum displays big art in a big way. Enter through the gift shop
In the mid-1980s, a vacant textile factory was converted into an art centre in Odense. Modern visual culture replaced weaving mills and industrial dye in the high-ceilinged rooms, and today Brandts is a showcase for contemporary and classical Danish art. After the Funen Art Academy left the building, Brandts has colonized all floors with big ambitions and tales of a future where Odense welcomes bigger exhibitions and give them the space they deserve. The Media Museum is the only other institution still present in this five storey industrial wonder.
Brandts is a cultural giant, setting the tone for the use of former industrial buildings for shops and cafes in the Latin Quarter. A re-launch of the museum in 2014 provided a new logo as well as a new curatorial direction: Brandts banished the solo shows of contemporary artists, and instead specialises in grand, themed exhibitions addressed to the popular unconscious, with appeal to stomach, hearts and egos. At first the contemporary art was displaced to its little sister, Brandts 13, but after another conceptual tightening Brandts 13 is now also in the past.
Whether exhibitions centered on tattoos, selfies and Disney are expressions of an experimental, post-modern attitude to canon, or rather signs of the institution nursing consumer-guests on their conditions is up for debate. For us, part of the answer is provided by the fact that the once well-stocked art bookstore now has been replaced by glasses, scarfs and pillars with Kandinsky motives. A bookstore is where an art museum greets its visitors - an opportunity to show that you have something to tell and that you take yourself and your guests seriously.
In any case, it surely is healthy that the museum is still able to piss people off. For the more traditionally-minded guest, there is a permanent collection of Danish painting on display in the attractive modern extension of the museum, including a gorgeous, dark Hammershøi that you really ought to revisit every time you stop by for a special exhibition.
You should always attend receptions at Brandts, even if there is no chance of catching as much as glimpse of what they have put on the walls because of the crowds. Instead, sip your complimentary beverage in the outdoor gallery in good company of (almost) the entire city and enjoy the glorious view over Amfipladsen.
Today people tend to take for granted that fine arts belong in industrial settings, but the biggest art centre on Funen was a pioneer in the field of developing outdated industrial building complexes into cultural hotspots. In 1988, the museum received the European Museum of the Year Award; the first of any Scandinavian museum to do so. A quality often taken for granted, but something that should still be applauded for respectful transformation of the built heritage. Let's hope it continues to raise the bar for museum practices and doesn't retreat into the comforts of easy choices.
Admission is free on Thursdays from 5-9 p.m. and your grandmother and your maybe-date will both appreciate an invitation (but seperately).
- Mon: -
- Tue - Wed: 10.00 - 17.00
- Thu: 10.00 - 21.00
- Fri - Sun: 10.00 - 17.00