The Moesgaard Museum by Henning Larsen is topped by a sloped lawn

Place: Aarhus, Denmark
Client: Moesgaard Museum
Architectural design:
Henning Larsen Architects
Landscape architects:
Kristine Jensen Landscape Architects
Images courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects and Moesgaard Museum
See captions for photo credits

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Photo by Rikke Larsson, courtesy of Moesgaard Museum 

The Moesgaard Museum by Henning Larsen is topped by a sloped lawn

On 10 October 2014, Queen Margrethe II officially opened the new Moesgaard Museum in Aarhus, Denmark
The architecture conceived by Henning Larsen architects is hard to confuse with any other: a large inclined plane covered with lawns and flower beds constitutes the building’s accessible roof, inviting people to walk on its gentle slope. The roof almost looks like a rectangular piece of land that has been cut and tilted up. Such a solution was conceived not only to better mix together the building with the surrounding landscape but also to provide unconventional opportunities to visitors like to “form an area for picnics, barbecues, lectures, and traditional Midsummer Day’s bonfires. Come winter snowfall, the sloping roof will become transformed into the city’s best toboggan run” (from Henning Larsen architects’ project description).

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Top left: aerial photo by Jan Kofod Winther; top right: site plan; middle and bottom: photos by Hens Markus Lindhe; all images courtesy of Henning Larsen architects

When examined a bit closer, the roof plane reveals a more complex form with counter-sloped surfaces, light dwells, and footpaths, somehow reflecting the internal layout of the building.
The interior is indeed arranged on different levels, interconnected through ample stairways, with a total gross floor area of 16,000 square meters (172,000 sq. ft.).

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Top; conceptual sketches; middle and bottom: photos by Hens Markus Lindhe, all images courtesy of Henning Larsen architects 

The inside of the museum is intentionally arranged in a quite articulated ensemble of layers to invite the visitors to the progressive and surprising discovery of the various historical and archaeological sections featured. A large foyer forms the building’s functional core as well as its main socializing and gathering space.

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The Moesgaard Museum permanent exhibition is poly-thematic and currently covers three main subjects: anthropology, ethnography, and archaeology.
The central staircase has been conceived, quite ingeniously, also as an anthropology exhibit support where seven “steps” of human evolution, from 3.2 million-year-old Lucy Australopithecus to a stone age Danish woman up to modern men, are reconstructed. Going up and down the main staircase, we are somehow invited to perceive such remote ancestors as if they were ordinary visitors like us.

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Below the stairs, an archaeological gallery is then focused on the Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Viking Age, with exhibits such as the “Grauballe Man” bog body and artifacts dating from the 19th century BC to the 11th century AD. An ethnographic exhibition, entitled “Lives of the Dead” is also featured at the museum, focused on rituals, cults, and traditions related to the remembrance of deceased relatives in different cultures from Mexico, Uganda, Australia, and Denmark.

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top: photo by Rikke Larsson, courtesy of Moesgaard Museum  
middle: photo by Jacob Due, courtesy of Moesgaard Museum 
bottom: photo by Hens Markus Lindhe, courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects,
museum’s plans courtesy of Henning Larsen architects

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Moesgaard Museum, Højbjerg, Aarhus
Moesgaard museum Højbjerg Aarhus 04

The Moesgaard (or Moesgård) museum in Højbjerg, a suburb of Aarhus, is an archaeological, ethnographic and anthropological museum in Denmark.

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