Title: Moesgaard Museum
Location: Aarhus, Denmark
Office: Henning Larsen Architects
Authors: Troels Troelsen, Niels EdeltoR, Elizabeth Balsborg and Louis Becker
Category: Collective Places
Video: Directed and produced by Henning Larsen Architects
Photos: Jens Lindhe, Martin Schubert, Jan Kofod Winther, Jacob Due
South of Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark, Moesgaard Museum combines architecture, nature, culture and history in one building. As the museum accommodates archaeological and ethnographic exhibitions, the design is inspired by the process of archaeological excavation. The building gradually reveals its exhibitions on several underground levels. On the surface, the sloping roof blends into the hilly landscape, concealing the treasures below.
The roof has become a destination in itself. From the top of the roof – about 90 meters above sea level – is a stunning view of the surrounding landscape and the Bay of Aarhus. The roof of the museum also hosts sports activities and large public and community events, such as picnics, bike races, culture events, theater, and in the winter it transforms into one of Denmark’s most exceptional sledging hill.
The landscape also plays a role inside the museum. From the foyer space you have a view of it, and the exhibition rooms are complemented by a sunny break rooms, where visitors can take a break form the exhibitions, relax in soft furniture and enjoy the view of the exceptional landscape.
The roof, the break rooms and the modern technology based exhibitions that the museum displays make a visit to Moesgaard Museum a unique museum experience, and the museum has become a new cultural gathering place for locals as well as tourists. The number of visitors has grown by seven times, since the building was inaugurated in 2014 by HM Queen Margrethe II.
The museum’s design invites the public to more than the traditional museum visit. Its sloping grass roof has become a center for public activity and has brought life to the area.
“It was important to us that the museum didn’t subtract anything from the area, but instead added new amenity values and invited people to new cultural – as well as nature and architectural – experiences. By making the roof accessible, the area around Moesgaard could be used for picnics, events and kids could run a play on it,” architect and project manager Niels Edeltoft from Henning Larsen Architects, points out.
The museum roof has already been the used for festivals, cultural events, concerts, sports races, school outings, fashion shoots, as a toboggan run, for family picnics and even bird enthusiasts take up residence on top of the roof spotting for rare species. The Instagram images with the hashtag #moesgaardmuseum speak for themselves.
Furthermore, this summer The Royal Danish Theatre will perform a grand play, The Red Serpent – A spectacular Viking saga, with the hilly landscape around the museum and the museum building as the setting.