On Saturday 28th May, the final stage of the ARoS Museum of Art in Denmark will open to the public in a vibrant flourish of interactive artwork. Designed by schmidt hammer lassen (shl) in 2007 the building takes visitors on a tumultuous journey through Dante’s Divine Comedy, leading up through the nine circles of Hell and the Mount of Purgatory to the freshly completed Your Rainbow Panorama on the museum’s roof, signifying Paradise.
At the completion of shl’s red-brick cube in 2007, an international art competition was launched to find a jewel for the building’s crown, completing the journey though Dante’s legendary text. Danish/Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson was selected over Dominique Perrault, DS+R and Maya Lin in a bid for the project, with construction work beginning onsite in 2009.
The permanent installation takes the form of a 150m circular walkway encompassing all the colours of the spectrum. At 3m in width, the passageway is wide enough for a number of people to pass through easily and is designed to act as a visual compass for the city of Århus, affording incredible panoramic views across the neighbourhood. This work is typical of the artist, whose previous architectural designs act as contemplative pieces that analyse the relationship between body and environment.
Eliasson explains: “Your Rainbow Panorama enters into a dialogue with the existing architecture and reinforces what is assured beforehand, that is to say the view of the city. I have created a space which virtually erases the boundaries between inside and outside - where people become a little uncertain as to whether they have stepped into a work or into part of the museum. This uncertainty is important to me, as it encourages people to think and sense beyond the limits within which they are accustomed to moving."
The brightly coloured glass casing is mounted on a number of slender columns raised 3.5m above the roof of the museum and boasts a generous diameter of 52m. Hoisted 50m above street level, the ‘halo’ is predicted to become a popular tourist attraction and a ‘unique, artistic and architectonic landmark of international standing’.
Whilst individually the installation commands attention and is sleek in its own way, many have been led to question its connection to the museum beneath. The plain red-brick exterior of the ARoS Museum of Art is bisected by a strip of frosted glass which sheathes a crevice that splits the building into two halves. Internally, a pure white core acts as a neutral base for the work of a number of high profile artists. Eliasson’s circular rooftop walkway works against the sharp edges of Museum, its curved lines jarring against the original silhouette of the geometric structure. One may argue that an installation of this magnitude and vibrance belongs within the walls of the Museum itself rather than at its crown.
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