ARoS - The Next Level

An evolving cultural heart

ARoS Aarhus Art Museum is a significant cultural beacon in Aarhus, Denmark. In order to uphold its appeal, pertinence, and integrity, the museum is constantly evolving to reflect the technological, economical, and social changes occurring both locally and globally.

Art is a medium that not only mirrors, influences, and challenges established norms, but also draws inspiration from them. Thus, art and societal changes are intricately linked, and leading art museums such as ARoS have a crucial role in fostering and directing this relationship. This involves not only shaping their programmes and exhibitions but also providing physical spaces that stimulate and showcase this dialogue effectively.

ARoS – The Next Level takes visitors on a sensuous horizontal journey through a subterranean gallery that opens to the monumental art installation and Skyspace, The Dome, by American artists James Turrell.

As many of ARoS’ existing exhibition spaces are located fully or partially below ground, the subterranean gallery and The Dome may on one hand appear like a natural extension, while on the other it presents a unique approach to the curation of art, light, and space to offer an astonishing experience and encourage public engagement.

It is the continuous dialogue between ARoS Aarhus Art Museum and Schmidt Hammer Lassen which laid the ground for the development and visualisation of ARoS – The Next Level. The Dome is undeniably the centrepiece that, together with the subterranean gallery, merges art and architecture into a new civic and accessible experience.

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As a prominent cultural institution, ARoS is constantly developing to both reflect and address present societal challenges. The Next Level is the expansion project developed in collaboration with the American artist James Turrell.
The expansion will contain a 1000 m² subterranean gallery and The Dome - a semisubterranean art installation.

James Turrell is one of the world's leading artists working with light, colours and art installations with permanent installations in over 26 countries. His works have the common feature that they embrace the audience through light and colour effects controlled by the artist. Turrell’s often colourful room installations are reminiscent of three-dimensional light paintings, where he connects the earthly with the heavenly and body and sense with the mind and thought. The Next Level is his biggest project within a museum context.

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The Dome will become the largest Turrell´s Skyspace in the world within a museum context, and further cement ARoS’ position as leading exhibition venue in the field of light, space, and colour.

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For over half a century, James Turrell has worked directly with light and space to create artworks that engage viewers with the limits and wonder of human perception.

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My work is more about your seeing than it is about my seeing, although it is a product of my seeing. I’m also interested in the sense of presence of space; that is space where you feel a presence, almost an entity — that physical feeling and power that space can give.
– James Turrell
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Model of ARoS - The Next Level
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Aarhus, Denmark
Art museum
4,000 m²
Aarhus Municipality, ARoS Aarhus Art Museum
Client consultant:
Kuben Management A/S
Direct commission
Engineer & subconsultant:
Artist collaboration:
James Turrell (US)
Landscape architect:
Schmidt Hammer Lassen
Per Aarsleff A/S
B&B, FORBESMASSIE, Schmidt Hammer Lassen

ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, one of Northern Europe’s largest and most frequently visited art institutions, has embarked on a subterranean expansion of its premises that reimagines the modern art museum experience.

In a close collaboration between ARoS and world-renowned artist James Turrell, Schmidt Hammer Lassen is adding yet another spectacular chapter to the ever-evolving museum to help meet its ambition to offer extraordinary cultural experiences and rank it among the ten most eminent museums in the world.

In addition to a 1,000 m² subterranean gallery, James Turell’s centrepiece, The Dome, will become the largest skyspace in the world within a museum context, and further cement ARoS’ position as leading exhibition venue in the field of light, space, and colour.

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From ancient times, the dome appears in architecture as a general symbol, signifying power, the royal city, and the focal point of assembly. Architects in Christian and Muslim countries succeeded in building majestic churches and mosques with a dome, becoming masterpieces admired by their beauty. Today, The Dome at ARoS, with its 40 meters in diameter will form one of the most spectacular spaces ever built into an art museum.

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Conceptually, the original ARoS museum consists of a number of galleries, stacked vertically inside a square building. A public street carves its way through the cube, allowing daylight into a central atrium and providing a natural pedestrian connection between two central parts of the city. Visitors ascend on a spiral staircase from the basement, through the museum levels and galleries towards the roof, where Olafur Eliasson’s masterpiece “Your Rainbow Panorama” has become an icon, and a landmark of the city.

The Next Level provides a completely new journey, in contrast to this vertical orientation and movement. The extension consists of a long, sweeping horizontal passage, which takes the visitors below ground to a new gallery and further on to the centerpiece of the extension, the monumental Skyspace by James Turrell.

Two journeys, which both culminate in awe inspiring, building-scale art installations, centered on color, space, light and human perception.

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From the outside, The Next Level blends seamlessly into the landscape of the surrounding city park and continues the use of clearly defined geometric shapes, which characterizes the existing museum. The square gallery is reflected above ground, as a large new public square within the park.. The Dome manifests itself in the landscape as a perfectly round, grass covered hill, rising up to ten meters above the natural terrain, referencing the ancient burial mounds, which can be found in the landscape around the city.

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The Next Level expansion project is leading art towards new ways of expressions and content that will merge art and architecture into a new civic experience.

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