Mille Maria Steffen-Nielsen works in the cross field between art and social media. She has an MA in Art History and English. Mille is the Communications Manager at Ordrupgaard museum, and former Social Media Manager at Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 2014 she started the Instagram profile @rockthatmuseumkid – a profile dedicated to pictures of children watching or interacting with art in museums and galleries. Besides @rochkthatmuseumkid, Mille also runs the profile @missmillemaria as well as Ordrupgaard’s official Instagram profile: @ordrupgaard.
Your secret art venue when you seek peace and quiet
My secret art venue is Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in my hometown, Humlebaek. My mom used to take me there as a kid, and I loved it. I remember fragments of strange and exciting exhibitions of Danish and international art, and I remember the garden and the atmosphere of the place. The garden felt magical. Still does. The clear view of the ocean from the top of the hill, the Henry Moore sculptures that I used to climb, even though you’re not supposed to, and the people sitting out on the grass, drinking coffee and talking about life and art. I remember feeling that this particular museum was special. I had been to many, and now I even work in one, but I always return to Louisiana.
I feel that it is my museum. I’m sure others feel the same way. I go there to think sometimes. I get in my car and drive from busy Copenhagen to Humlebaek, and as soon as I enter those museum doors, I’m back in the place where I first discovered my love for art and museums. I have coffee in the sun, browse the permanent collection, or check out a new exhibition.
I take my kids on the weekends. They run in the garden, roll down the hill laughing, play hide and seek in Richard Serra’s giant iron gate – and they climb the Henry Moore sculptures, even though they’re not supposed to.
We go way back, Louisiana and I. And it still feels magical.
The best food experience in an art space
The Copenhagen art scene got a little cooler in 2013 when the national gallery of Denmark (aka The SMK), in central Copenhagen, decided to open its doors to a new museum experience: SMK Fridays.
Seven Fridays a year the museum turns up the music, turns down the lights and becomes a casually cool place where people hang out with drinks, street food, art talks, performances and pop-up exhibitions. Each event attracts thousands of people, and there’s always something fun and exciting to do.
As part of the SMK Fridays experience, a wide variety of street food is sold to enjoy inside the museum. Last time I had a delicious veggie taco before watching a performance by talented artist, Sophie Dupont.
SMK Fridays lets people – regulars and museum newbies – experience the museum in a different way. Suddenly the usually quiet, brightly lit art space is dark and full of music, people and the smell of food. Such a great way to invite people in, and let them use all their senses in the art space – what’s not to like?
A museum gift shop that you never leave empty handed
I love museums gift shops. I like all the art books – coffee table and more academic ones – and I like browsing through the little art gadgets that museums invent in connection with special exhibitions. We have many great museums shops here in Denmark, but the best ones are probably the gift shops of Louisiana MoMA and Arken. Both museums shops have lots of Danish design, posters, books, artsy toys, ceramics and usually a small collection of products particular to their current exhibition.
Your museum with a wow-factor
I hope it’s not considered bad form, but now that I’ve already mentioned Louisiana, The SMK and Arken, I’d really like to mention the beautiful museum where I work. Ordrupgaard has a lot in common with Louisiana, but they are very different museums after all. Ordrupgaard is the perfect mix of old and new. The museum’s extensive collection of Danish and French art hangs in an old, beautifully decorated mansion, whereas the special exhibitions are exhibited in a new extension by renowned British architect, Zaha Hadid. Ordrupgaard is surrounded by trees and a wonderful art park with contemporary pieces by Olafur Eliasson, Jeppe Hein, Simon Starling, Henry Krokatsis, Carsten Höller and more.
I love the curves of the Zaha Hadid extension, and I love that the old mansion looks almost pink when the light is just right. I love the old rooms full of paintings by Hammershøi, Gauguin, Monet, Manet and Courbet, and I love walking through Jeppe Hein’s mirror maze or into the fog of Olafur Eliassons ‘Weather the weather’ in the art park.
Please share with us a special personal memory related to a museum experience
I remember taking my eldest daughter Olivia to a museum for the first time. I had her in a baby sling across my body – she must have been about 2 months old. We saw the spring exhibition of 2011 at Charlottenborg in Copenhagen. Olivia was asleep for most of the trip, and it’s not the art that I remember. When I close my eyes I can still feel the warmth of her little body in the sling so tightly pressed against mine, and she made those little baby sounds while she slept. I remember feeling like a very cool and urban mom, museum hopping with my baby like it was nothing. Olivia woke up hungry in the middle of the visit, and I had to rush out to feed her. But even if our first museum visit together didn’t end as cool as it started, I knew from that day on that I would be the kind of mother who would make lots of museum memories with my children. So I do.