take the arty walk in the sky

ARoS: one of the finer art venues in Northern Europe

The 17,700 square metres large ARoS is hard to miss if you happen to be in Denmark. In the city of Århus, you can clearly spot the characteristic modernist cube, which sports its untarnished halo atop.

The purpose-built and dedicated exhibition space, combined with the quality of its collection, simply makes the art museum Irresistible.

If you count in ‘Your Rainbow Panorama’ on top of the building, the architecture is an impressive 10 levels altogether. The concept for the building is based on Dante’s Divine Comedy of Heaven and Hell and everything in-between. Hence the top of the building is Heaven and the basement is Hell. For the typical art enthusiasts this may be a stretch of imagination, because to them it is all heavenly. Even the ‘nine rooms’ below the ground floor are great to visit.

Contemporary art and the less so

On balance the Art museum clearly focuses on international art from World War II and onwards. It is particularly, the show rooms in ‘Art City’ which explore major contributions to art as represented in many art movements. As expected there is a bit of Warhol, Rauschenberg, and Oldenburg to tick off the Pop Art box any self-respecting modernist cubic museum must do. Perhaps more interesting, though, are the works of Tracey Moffatt, Tony Martelli, and the installation artist Matthew Ronay.

However, elsewhere in the building, there is a decent collection of both national and older pieces dating back to the 17th century.

There is representation of both Wilhelm Hammershøj, Oluf Høst, and even older artists harking back to the Danish Guldalder (so-called ‘golden age’). Along with these there are other equally homegrown talents but of more contemporary nature: E.g. Per Kirkeby, Tal R, Kathrine Ærtebjerg and Michael Kvium.

In addition, Ólafur Elíasson is represented with ‘Your Rainbow Panorama’, and the art museum has announced plans to buy another ‘rainbowish ‘installation from the Icelandic-Danish artist.

Through subsidies and sponsorships, entry to the museum is very affordable, and more of a nominal fee. The sponsorships also enable the museum to attract temporary exhibitions from abroad that are of outstanding quality.

The busy exhibition program has comprised of solo exhibitions of Tony Martelli, Edvard Munch, Kaspar Bonnén, Tony Oursler, and Ron Mueck. Ron Mueck is permanently represented with the hyper-real sculpture ‘Boy’.

ARoS is the old name of the city Aarhus, and ‘ars’ is the Latin word for art.

Past, present and future

The art museum dates back to 1859, but has moved location 4 times in its existence. The present building, with its 2011 refurbishments, has already attracted record numbers of visitors. Not only are the facilities great and bang up-to-date, the visitor centre is also a living and breathing entity engaging all segments of the population and in particular children. There is an art library situated in the building along with research facilities for faculties at the local university.

In addition, ARoS has aptly embraced private enterprises along with the public sector and created close ties with business entrepreneurs ensuring patronage, but also offering a great club with an event calendar of cultural merit.