Moesgaard Museum: An architectural extension of the landscape


Photo credit Media department - Moesgaard Museum

The new building rises from the ground.


Photo credit Jacob Gonge Due/Media department - Moesgaard Museum

A terracotta archer from the new exhibition 'The First Emperor - China's Terracotta Army'.


Photo credit Media department - Moesgaard Museum

Visitors can freely access the rooftop of the new building.


Photo credit Media department - Moesgaard Museum

The main staircase in the new exhibition building.


Photo credit Media department - Moesgaard Museum

View from the old Moesgaard manor.


Photo credit Media department - Moesgaard Museum

Rooftop view from Moesgaard Museum.


Photo credit Media department - Moesgaard Museum

The green-turfed rooftop of Moesgaard Museum.


The cultural-historical Moesgaard Museum in Aarhus, established in 1970, is dedicated to archaeology and ethnography. In October 2014, the museum opened a new exhibition building designed by world-renowned Danish architects Henning Larsen Architects.

Many cultural-historical museums around the world are placed in old historical buildings so it can be hard to create new spaces for new types of exhibitions, according to the Moesgaard Museum. The new museum building remedies this challenge. With its split levels inspired by archaeological excavations, which gradually unearth different layers of history, the new architecture is in itself an excursion.

Outside, the roof rises slowly from the hills of the Aarhus-suburb Skåde, where the building is set. Like a human-built hilltop, the architecture blends with the nature surrounding it. Henning Larsen Architects were involved in the design of everything from tables and resting benches to the museum café and the visual identity of the museum.

The architecture surrounds you as you walk around the museum, both indoors and out. The green-turfed rooftop, where visitors can enjoy a nice view over the Bay of Aarhus, is virtually an iconic architectural symbol for the museum. Inside guests are welcomed in the 750 square-metre lobby before they continue to explore the rest of the 10,000 square-metre building.

Whether guests are visiting the archaeological exhibition, the ethnographical exhibition or the temporary exhibitions, the museum building is designed to involve them in history. For example, the exhibitions take advantage of a floor-to-ceiling height of 12 metres.

The new museum extension has already been noticed, winning an architecture prize from Aarhus Municipality in 2014. The reason behind the prize was:

“A unique building has been created that will be of great importance in proportion to the city’s architecture vision. A vision that strives to make Aarhus an internationally renowned city of architecture.”

This April the first temporary exhibition is opening in the new museum building. The exhibition ‘The First Emperor ­– China’s Terracotta Army’ displays a unique selection of terracotta figures ­– warriors, government officials and a horse – along with objects reflecting Qin Shi Huangdi’s reign.

The exhibition presents a total of 120 cultural objects from the emperor’s tomb and from the Qin and Han Dynasties. The objects come from ten different museums in China, and several of them have not previously been on display outside of China.

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