ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum
Usually, when an art museum decides it wants to be one of the top 10 in the world, it focuses on building a stellar collection of masterpieces. ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum is doing it differently by focusing on its connections with the local community and society at large. That means it’s committing to us as people not just us as an audience.
Take its latest exhibition, Tomorrow is the Question, which faces our possible futures as humans given the crises we're in and is one of the many initiatives at the museum inspired by the UN seventeen sustainable development goals (others include Hunger and Poverty). There’s the awe-inspiring rooftop work by Olafur Eliasson, Your rainbow panorama, as well as James Turrell’s wondrous expansion of the museum with the Next Level, and the ARoS Triennial, which in 2017 looked at nature and environmental issues in contexts beyond the museums walls. Plus there’s Art & Yoga, artists in residence, and an emphasis on local food and craftsmanship in its culinary offerings. It is this commitment to 'experience, insight and reflection' that is making ARoS, one of Europe’s largest museums, also maybe one of its most relevant.
In fact Director Erlend Hoyersten is explicitly making good health and well-being a goal for this contemporary arts institution:
'A good life is a life full of meaning and social relations. We humans need to commit ourselves, to know things, and to mean something to others. Joy is not about predictability, control or absence of pain. Joy is often about something we cannot be quite sure of. Art disrupts. Art asks questions. Art helps us to see what does not yet exist. Only by imagining a better world can we actually get a better world. If you can think it, you can do it.’
ARoS refers to itself as a ‘mental fitness center’ which we just love. We’re very much on board with that approach to our museums. Here we get to reach as people for whatever it is we need in our lives: curiosity, connection, awe and wonder amongst these. Giving ourselves over to new ideas, to new ways of being, to new visual languages, means we also get to give ourselves over to an expanded sense of ourselves, of our worlds and of each other.
Watch this video: it will give you shivers for how our museums can function differently. Campfires for today? Absolutely.