Danish Louisiana by Isabella Levethan  The Louisiana Museum is not in Louisiana. In fact, it isn’t even in the United States. It rests along the shore of the Oresund Sound in Denmark, thirty kilometers from the city of Copenhagen where I was visiting with my father almost two years ago. “But why Louisiana?” I asked my father, perplexed by the name of this museum that was thousands of miles away from the actual American state of Louisiana. “Don’t know,” my father replied matter-of-factly, smiling at me. Going to the museum had been somewhat of an afterthought. My father and I had decided on a whim to catch a train from the Central Station near our hotel to the seaside town where the museum was located. It was nearly 4:00 in the afternoon and a drizzling, misty day when we boarded the train for the forty-minute trip that would take us to the museum’s town. Soon after, we pulled into the tiny station where we were to get off. We stepped onto the platform and looked around. Framing our view were alpine trees and tiny white houses, smartly and closely lined up along the sidewalk like neat rows of teeth. It was completely quiet save for the occasional shuffling of people waiting on the platform for the next train to arrive. We looked around and saw a sign across from the station that read Louisiana Museum, 10 minutes with an arrow indicating the way, so we headed in the direction it pointed us, walking along the sidewalk as the sun began to set behind the gray clouds. We walked for what seemed like half an hour, beginning to wonder if there really was a Louisiana Museum. As we walked, however, we continued to see signs guiding us towards the museum, as if coaxing us farther still along the edges of the town to our destination. When we finally saw the museum, the sun was disappearing into the trees, and as we stepped up the pebbled driveway and into the blocky, ’50s era building, the museum’s rectangular foyer greeted us. One side of the entry room was made completely of glass, showing the massive body of water that the museum overlooked. My father and I decided to venture outside to look at the water below us, and proceeded to make our way down a footpath that wound through a hilly maze of trees and brush to a large dock at the water’s edge. When we reached the bottom, we stepped out onto the dock and froze, transfixed by the view that met us. The sun was in full set by now, stretching pink and purple streaks across the sky. The gray and rainy day had begun to clear, a hazy bluish light like that after a storm giving the scene a tranquil atmosphere. In front of us lay the enormous, infinitely reaching Oresund Sound, waves lapping at the edge of the shore below us. The water was calm, placid, rippling only when it met the edge of a sole fisherman’s boat fifty feet from the shore. The few people standing out on the dock near us spoke softly, like members of a theater audience whispering to avoid disturbing the scene. Scattered rocks framed the edges of the water and across the way, perhaps thousands of feet out, a large mass could be faintly seen in the distance. I asked my father if it was Sweden, peeking out through the foggy edges of the water. “Don’t know,” he responded. We walked back inside and, upon my father’s remarking he was hungry, wandered into the large dining area of the museum. My father ordered a small chocolate dessert from one of the refrigerated cases, and we sat down in a corner to quickly eat before exploring the museum. The dessert, a rectangular chocolate bar of sorts, had been brought to us on a plastic tray reminiscent of those given out during school lunches. Our server had placed a knife and fork next to the plate, which perplexed my father, who had intended to eat the candy-bar dessert with his hands; he stared at the tableware confusedly for a few moments before a smile spread across his face. He picked up the utensils and began to imitate the scene from Seinfeld where Mr. Pitt cuts his Snickers bar with a knife and fork, making me laugh and making everyone else stare strangely at us as he mimicked the comical gestures of the uptight Englishman from the American sitcom. After my father had finished his dessert, we began to wander down the long, never ending hallways of the museum. Our footsteps echoed around us as we meandered from gallery to gallery. The museum’s visitors were scarce around that time of day, and the few people that we did see stood pooling in the corners of each room, admiring works of art silently. My father and I both drifted around the galleries slowly, stopping to look at each work quietly as we made our way around. Nightfall had begun to creep into the sky and seep around the edges of the windows that framed the galleries, the quickly retreating daylight bringing away with it the majority of the museum’s visitors. We walked separately around the paintings and photographs, meditating on each one for a few moments before nodding in approval at the works and moving on. My father and I would reconvene at the entrance of each room briefly to ask each other, “Did you see that one?” We seemed to gravitate towards the same pieces, intrigued by the same shapes and colors. As we walked through a long hallway, we saw a small, closed door hidden to our left. It seemed to me almost a broom closet or storage space of sorts until my father pointed out the placard by its side: Fireflies on the Water, Yayoi Kusama. We looked at each other and my father offered a hesitant smile. We pushed open the small door and stepped into a thick sky of twinkling lights. The door shut quietly behind us. The room was pitch black and small, big enough only for a dozen or so people. My father and I stood side by side on a small platform that rose above a bed of water, the walls around us made completely of mirrors. Suspended from the low ceiling were hundreds of twinkling lights, their glow reflected onto the mirrored walls and glassy, watered floor. Their reflection created the illusion that the room and the lights stretched for miles around, above and below us, reminiscent of being suspended in the middle of a dark star-scattered sky. The lights’ faint glow changed softly from white to blue, pink, purple and back, hazily giving the entire scene a dream-like quality. My father and I stood staring at the scene in awe, watching the lights fade from color to color as our own images stood reflected in the middle of the sea of twinkling lights. As we stepped back into the brightly lit hallway, we continued our journey through the museum’s cavernous rooms. We wandered for what felt like hours, the building swallowing us up into its winding galleries and bringing us farther into the maze of artwork. We passed what seemed like hundreds of galleries with priceless works of art, through rows of Picassos and Matisses that captivated and awed. Each waltz through the labyrinths of artwork brought a new understanding of the museum, a new appreciation for what stood amassed before us. Our enchantment only grew bigger as the hands of the clock inched towards closing time and we crept farther into the depths of the museum, enthralled by the grandiose works that kept appearing before our eyes. By that time of the evening, we were among the few people left wandering throughout the halls, the silence permeating every corner of the museum yet leaving us feeling anything but lonely. At one point we encountered a long hallway with a mirror at its end, reflecting the two of us walking side by side down its middle. “Wait!” I told my father, “I want to film our reflection walking down together.” And so we walked, arm in arm, our image in the mirror becoming larger and larger as I filmed the two of us grinning and suppressing our laughter. Ours were the only reflections to be seen. We seemed to be the only ones in the museum, and yet it felt oddly perfect that we were alone. As the last of the darkness made landfall, we heard the sound of an intercom saying that closing time was approaching. While we walked towards the entryway, we could see guards locking up doors and museum docents putting away their folding chairs. We both dreaded the walk back in the cold, but it was not the warmth of the heated galleries that kept us wishing we could stay in the museum. For a few hours, the museum had swallowed us up in its vast rooms and artwork. We fell victim to its magnetic draw; it impressed us with awe-inspiring views, kept pulling us from gallery to gallery like planets held in orbit by a strong, invisible force. It was hard to break from the trance that made us want to keep walking throughout the museum forever. Forced by its closing rather than our own desire to leave, we finally pulled away and left the museum as quietly and invisibly as we had found it. Night was stretching thickly around us, and each sharp inhale of cold Danish air seeped through our bodies and made our lungs raw. My father and I walked briskly to the train station and stood waiting lonesomely on the platform for the train back to the city. Our breaths blew nebulous clouds of white air into the night as the Louisiana Museum, 10 minutes sign sat looking at us from across the street, its presence the only evidence that somewhere in the darkness stood our museum.