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Moesgaard Museum

Moesgaard Museum (MOMU)  is designed by Henning Larsen Architects in collaboration with Kristine Jensens Tegnestue is a Danish regional museum dedicated to archaeology and ethnography. It is located in Højbjerg, a suburb of Aarhus, Denmark. The new 16,000 m2 museum is uniquely located in the hilly landscape of Skåde south of Aarhus, Denmark. With its sloping roofscape of grass, moss and flowers in bright colours the building appears a powerful visual landmark perceptible even from the sea.

Moesgaard-Museum-By-Henning-Larsen-Architects-01-Henning-Larsen-Architects-759x337 Moesgaard Museum / Henning Larsen Architects

© Henning Larsen Architects

The main part of the museum’s archaeological collection is of Danish origin. In addition, the Ethnographical Collections contain almost 50.000 artefacts from all over the world. They are used both for research and exhibitions. The collection also contains photographic material, films and sound recordings.

The museum’s exhibitions presents several unrivalled archaeological findings from Denmark’s ancient past, amongst others the Grauballe Man, the world’s best preserved bog body and the large ritual weapon caches from Illerup Ådal, testifying the power struggles and warfare of the Iron Age. The collection also contains seven local rune stones. Temporary exhibitions at the museum also display examples of the world’s cultural heritage.

Moesgaard-Museum-By-Henning-Larsen-Architects-06-Henning-Larsen-Architects-759x337 Moesgaard Museum / Henning Larsen Architects

© Henning Larsen Architects

Design Features:

The new Moesgaard Museum be a huge attraction not only because of the stunning architectural design of the museum, its unique exhibitions, and great location in scenic surroundings of south of Aarhus, overlooking the woods and the sea – but also due to the establishment’s excellent meetings and conference facilities.

Prehistory presented innovatively in a breathtaking architectural setting makes for a world-class museum experience when you visit the Moesgaard Museum. The past becomes alive and the people in the exhibits will step forward and provide the visitors with a better understanding of the past and how we arrived at where we are in the present.

Moesgaard-Museum-By-Henning-Larsen-Architects-07-Henning-Larsen-Architects-759x337 Moesgaard Museum / Henning Larsen Architects

© Henning Larsen Architects

The evolutionary stairway at Moesgaard Museum is not only a key element of the architecture, which leads to the various exhibitions of the museum, it is also very much an opportunity for you to see where we human beings originate from. On the stairs you will see seven hominins. They were members of the tribe Hominini, which means ”human species”, but they don’t all look like the modern human being.

Staged settings, dramatized storytelling, and state-of-the-art research all combine to make the exhibitions at the new museum – appeal to visitors of all ages whilst also creating a sense of bonding, fellowship and shared experience across generations.

Museum building’s green roof that rises up out of the grassy surface, contains varying activities and is a key part of the experience of the landscape by linking the vast landscape of the museum world. The arrival to the building is mainly from the parking area to the west. From here it is possible to arrive at the museum level freely via paths and ramps that do not exceed 1:20 in slope. All accesses leads the visitor through the characteristic nature that surrounds the building, before they reach the entrances. Stinetværket creates good opportunities for recreation and provides high availability for museum visitors.

Moesgaard-Museum-By-Henning-Larsen-Architects-10-Moesgaard-Museum-805x1200 Moesgaard Museum / Henning Larsen Architects

© Moesgaard Museum

The landscaping at Moesgaard Museum is about an observation and an understanding of the landscape’s distinctive cultural and historical features, to thereby provide opportunities for a successful implementation of new gardens in the existing landscape context. The project is an example of how the landscape plan is the unifying factor of relationships to the environment, since it is both influenced by the contemporary museum institution many outdoor activities and manor plant soundboard.

Moesgaard-Museum-By-Henning-Larsen-Architects-13-Martin-Schubert-759x506 Moesgaard Museum / Henning Larsen Architects

© Martin Schubert

Henning Larsen Architects:

Architecture, nature, culture and history fuse together into a total experience at Moesgaard Museum. With its green roof, bright courtyard gardens, and underground terraces, the museum will invite various new and alternative kinds of exhibitions.

The new 16,000 m2 museum is uniquely located in the hilly landscape of Skåde south of Aarhus. With its sloping roofscape of grass, moss and flowers in bright colours the building will appear a powerful visual landmark perceptible even from the sea. The rectangular shaped roof plane seems to grow out of the landscape and during summer it will form an area for picnics, barbecues, lectures and traditional Midsummer Day’s bonfires.

Moesgaard-Museum-By-Henning-Larsen-Architects-16-flickr-GMessaritakis-759x506 Moesgaard Museum / Henning Larsen Architects

© flickr-GMessaritakis

The heart of the building is the foyer where the ticket sales, the museum shop and the public café are situated. From here, one can enjoy the impressive view of the Aarhus Bay through great glass walls. Furthermore, from the foyer there is access to the large roof top terrace with outdoor service.

The interior of the building is designed like a varied terraced landscape inspired by archaeological excavations gradually unearthing the layers of history and exposing lost cities. The visitor can move through a vivid sequence of exhibitions and scientific experiments – like a traveler in time and space.

Moesgaard-Museum-By-Henning-Larsen-Architects-21-Jacob-Due-759x505 Moesgaard Museum / Henning Larsen Architects

© Jacob Due


In the permanent exhibition, the visitors are invited to an eventful journey to Aarhus in the Viking age and out into the world with some of the most prominent, local personalities from that era.

Everything in the exhibition is new. Burial mounds and districts of towns, faces and people have been reconstructed and built for the new museum. The exhibition is the biggest in the museum and with a floor-to-ceiling hight of 12 meters it is possible to communicate the impressive collection of Moesgård on several levels. Thus the exhibition reflects the archaeological excavations which gradually unearth the layers of the history.

Moesgaard-Museum-By-Henning-Larsen-Architects-24-Moesgaard-Museum-759x507 Moesgaard Museum / Henning Larsen Architects

© Moesgaard Museum

The special exhibit is placed in direct connection with the commodities court, which must be supervised 24 hours a-day as soon as the exhibit opens. High standards for logistics, safety and climate control is the be-all and end-all in order for the museum to attract large, international exhibitions like “The first Emperor – China’s Terracotta Army”, which will be on display at Moesgaard next summer. The new museum will be the first of its kind in Denmark to accommodate exhibitions of that caliber.

The exhibition hall can furthermore be utilized for many other purposes such as conferences, fairs, and fashion shows.

Moesgaard-Museum-By-Henning-Larsen-Architects-25-Martin-Schubert-759x507 Moesgaard Museum / Henning Larsen Architects

© Martin Schubert


The overall sustainable strategy has been integrated in the architectural design. Fundamental elements such as the building’s geometry and orientation have been considered in order to maximise every square meter. The south-facing roof surface (roof facade) forms the calculated basis for an energy-efficient building, which achieves Energy Class 1 status.

Moesgaard-Museum-By-Henning-Larsen-Architects-36-flickr-GMessaritakis-800x1200 Moesgaard Museum / Henning Larsen Architects

© flickr-GMessaritakis

The green roof of the museum contributes to decreasing the energy consumption of the building. The roof reduces the overall need for cooling due to decreased heat absorption. Furthermore, the overall amount of wastewater draining from the site is reduced.

The roof slopes downwards to the south, protecting the objects on display from direct sunlight. Connected to each exhibition room, a glass-enclosed area functions as a break room – allowing visitors to enter, but preventing direct sunlight from reaching the objects on display. In these spaces, visitors can have a bright respite from the dark of the exhibition spaces and reorient to nature and sunlight.

Moesgaard-Museum-By-Henning-Larsen-Architects-46-Henning-Larsen-Architects-759x337 Moesgaard Museum / Henning Larsen Architects

© Henning Larsen Architects

Moesgaard-Museum-By-Henning-Larsen-Architects-44-Jens-Lindhe-759x506 Moesgaard Museum / Henning Larsen Architects

© Jens Lindhe

An optimal use of daylight in the remaining part of the museum has reduced the need for artificial lighting, decreasing overall energy consumption. Around the administrative and educational facilities-which are placed in the rising end of the building- small yards in the building volume has been placed allowing the daylight to penetrate the roof.

The materials of the building harmonise with the overall expression of the building and at the same time consider acoustics, economy, technical settings, maintenance, durability, colour options and sustainability.

Moesgaard-Museum-By-Henning-Larsen-Architects-61-Jan-Kofod-Winther-759x459 Moesgaard Museum / Henning Larsen Architects

© Jan Kofod Winther

Project Data:

Project name: Moesgaard Museum
Location: Moesgård Allé 15, 8270 Højbjerg, Aarhus, Denmark
Coordinates: 56.088803, 10.223584
Type: Museum
Gross floor area: 16,000 sqm
Site area: 10.3 ha
Construction Period: 2010 – 2013
Status: Built
Completion Year: 2014
Opening Date: October 10th, 2014
Visit Moesgaard Museum’s website: here


  • 2015 – Civic Trust Awards – Winner
  • 2015 – Architizer A+ Awards – Typology Categories: Cultural > Museum – Jury Winner
  • 2015 – WAN Awards – Category: Civic Buildings – Shortlist
  • 2015 – Mies van der Rohe Awards – Shortlist

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Moesgaard Museum
Client adviser: D-K2
Architects: Henning Larsen Architects – Vesterbrogade 76 Dk-1620 Copenhagen V Denmark
Landscape architects: Kristine Jensens Tegnestue
Project Team:

  • Architects design Team: Louis Becker (Responsible Partner), Niels Edeltoft (Project Manager), Troels Troelsen (Design Responsible, Competition Phase), Elizabeth Ø. Balsborg (Architect and Design Manager), Birte Bæk, Carsten Fisher, Gitte Edelgren, Greta Lillienau, Hans Vogel, Henrik Vuust, Irma Persson Käll, Johnny Holm Jensen, Julie Daugaard Jensen, Lars Harup, Lars Krog Hansen, Magnus Folmer Hansen, Mai Svanholt, Maja Aasted, Martha Lewis, Matthias Lehr, Peter Koch, Sarah Kübler, Stefan Ernst Jensen
  • Interior design Team: Christian Andresen, Karima Andersen, Louise Bay Poulsen, Marie Louise Mangor
  • Landscape design Team: Kristine Jensen (Partner and Creative Director), Nina Walsh Holmbroe (Architect)

Engineers: Cowi
Contractors: MT Højgaard og Lindpro
Text Description: © Courtesy of Henning Larsen Architects, visitaarhus, aarhus.dk, Kristine Jensens Tegnestue
Images: © Henning Larsen Architects, Moesgaard Museum, Jens Lindhe, Martin Schubert, Jan Kofod Winther, Jacob Due, flickr-GMessaritakis

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Moesgaard Museum / Henning Larsen Architects
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