The Arken museum of modern art in Ishøj was designed in 1988 by Søren Robert Lund, who won the design contract at the age of 25, while still a student of architecture. The museum was built in 1994-96 in the characteristic Postmodernist style. The architecture employs powerful and expressive effects in which the building dissolves in a chaos of intersecting lines and surfaces. Fragments and references embedded in the building recount a narrative of the museum as a stranded and sand-buried ship. In 2008, Arken was extended by 1,600 m² of exhibition space designed by the architectural firm C.F. Møller, bringing the current exhibition space up to 5,000 m².
The increasing affluence of the 1960s onwards saw the emergence of large housing estates south of Copenhagen. The population swelled as a result of increasing immigration to Denmark, and municipalities south of Copenhagen came to contain new multicultural neighbourhoods. As part of cultural policy in the 1980s, there was a drive to move high culture and its institutions out to 'the people'. This led to the decision to locate the new museum of modern art near Ishøj, south of Copenhagen. The idea was to allow the large and diversified demographic in the western suburbs to experience art in their own environs, while the museum would attract traditional museum-goers to the area. In this way, the museum would make a positive contribution to multicultural integration and the general advancement of art and culture.