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The Collections

On April 15 1957 The J.F. Willumsen Museum was inaugurated in Frederikssund. The building, which was erected to contain Willumsen’s collection and The Great Relief, was designed by the architect Tyge Hvass, Willumsen himself had put forward a number of proposals for a museum, but they were all too extensive to be practical. J.F. Willumsen had no connection with Frederikssund, nor did his art have any particular connection with the district. The municipality of Frederikssund offered to put up a building, and on this basis Willumsen donated his collection to the town. He had formerly offered it to the Danish State, to the municipality of Copenhagen and to a couple of other towns, but without any result.

Back in 1929 Willumsen had offered his collection of older foreign art, "The Old Collection" to the Danish State. Willumsen had hoped that it could be exhibited in his house in Strandagervej, Hellerup, where he no longer lived. The Ministry of Education rejected his offer and in the following years he continued to work on creating a museum for his collection. In 1935 Axel Jørgensen suggested a museum to be based on Willumsen’s own works. Negotiations were prolonged by the war, and in 1947 The Old Collection was exhibited at Charlottenborg and Willumsen’s works at The Free Exhibition. The same year Willumsen wrote his deed of gift.

Ten years later The J.F. Willumsen Museum opened in Frederikssund as a museum for Willumsen’s art. The Old Collection was in the museum, but stored away in the basement. Willumsen himself did not see the museum – he was living in the South of France and was too old to manage the journey. J.F. Willumsen had donated the entire collection of his own works, his Old Collection and large archive containing photographs, books, letters, diaries, collected through a long life. Few museums have such a comprehensive collection of documents, bearing witness to the work of an artist.

Since the museum’s opening, works by Willumsen have been acquired continuously with the aim of expanding and supplementing the existing collection. For many years Willumsen had dreamt of a museum being created for his works. Already in 1918 he had been very excited by the idea that the clothes wholesaler Chr. T. Levinsen, who owned many of his works, was considering the establishment of a Willumsen museum. The care with which he collected and kept works of art and achivalia over the years indicates that he had a museum in mind.  

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