Mythologies – The Beginning and End of Civilizations

4 Apr 2020 – 18 Oct 2020

Regular hours

10:00 – 17:00
10:00 – 17:00
10:00 – 21:00
10:00 – 21:00
00:51 – 21:00
10:00 – 21:00

Cost of entry

150 DKK

ARoS Aarhus Art Museum

Aarhus, Denmark


Travel Information

  • 3, 7, 14 and 18 stop at 'Mølleparken'. 11 and 58 stop at 'Hans Hartwig Seedorffs Stræde'. From the bus stops there is a short walk to ARoS. Just follow the rainbow.
  • From the central train station in Aarhus the museum is located a short 10 minute walk away

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An ambitious exhibition about faith, hope, and revolution and about narrative power from the Greek myths to the present-day welfare state.


In the summer month of 2020 ARoS Aarhus Art Museum will be staging the mega-exhibition Mythologies – The Beginning and End of Civilizations. The exhibition covers more than 3000 square metres in three of the museum’s gallery spaces. Around hundred-and-fifty works loaned from seventeen countries will be on show. Highlights include a large array of classical paintings, sculptures, modern installation art, video works, photographs, and posters.

Dividing and uniting narratives
The work to organise this exhibition already began during the planning of the ARoS Triennial The Garden – End of Times, Beginning of Times from 2017. This exhibition revolved around man’s relationship with nature while Mythologies – The Beginning and End of Civilizations focuses on mutual human relationships. Thus, the purpose of the exhibition is to expose the myths and narratives which, through various historical epochs, have supported society and bolstered communities while also leading to destruction, war, and fragmentation.

- The exhibition addresses myths and narratives in times of unrest. In the case of Christianity, for example, it’s about the fragmentation between Catholicism and Protestantism and about how new narratives emerge out of this, giving rise to new philosophies of life and ways to understand society. It’s in times of upheaval that we discover precisely the values that are on stake and it’s at this point that many new values emerge, says Erlend G. Høyersten, museum director, ARoS.

From Greek myths to the welfare state
The narrative of Mythologies – The Beginning and End of Civilizations begins with the Greek myths where the divine assumes human form. From here, the exhibition proceeds to Christianity with Genesis, Doomsday scenarios, the Reformation, and Counter-Reformation to neo-classicism and a political idiom where the narrative expressed in art shifts from being religious to becoming political. The exhibition also addresses Nordic mythology including the myths about the afterlife, female figures such as Venus and Cleopatra, bringing us on to totalitarianism, Hitler and Nazism, and other totalitarian regimes. The overall narrative of this exhibition concludes with the welfare state, now a widespread narrative about our common Nordic societies.

- With this exhibition, we’d like visitors to respond to and learn about the myths and narratives that underlie the foundations of present-day society – a society that includes us all and to which everyone contributes. That’s to say the stories that define who we are. It’s a very important exhibition, especially in these times of climate crisis, fake news, and increasing polarisation. It’s about making visitors see and understand why things become what they are, continues Erlend G. Høyersten

Classical heavyweights and modern contemporary art 
On level 5, visitors can experience classical paintings by artists including Peter Paul Rubens, Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach, Jan Brueghel the Younger, Wilhelm Marstrand, and C.W. Eckersberg alongside installation art by Helene Nymann, for example. The gallery spaces on level 1 and 0 show different kinds of modern contemporary art by e.g. Anri Sala, Anselm Kiefer, Kader Attia, Shana Moulton, Marguerite Humeau, and Pauline Curnier Jardin.

- The exhibition presents striking works by great classical and contemporary artists. We have included paintings dating as far back as the sixteenth century. There is a broad selection of works and visitors will experience how both past and present artists, for various reasons and via different art forms, have ultimately locked on to the ancient myths, which form our common background, says Jakob Vengberg Sevel, curator, ARoS.

Curator-in-charge: Jakob Vengberg Sevel, ARoS


Augustinus Fonden
Knud Højgaards Fond
Statens Kunstfond
Ege Tæpper
Panasonic Business
MD Fine Art

Exhibiting artists

Pauline Curnier Jardin

Raphaela Vogel

Aleksander Apsit

Alexander Tovborg

Robert Boyd

Erik Henningsen

Mårten Eskil Winge

Vladimir Majakovskij


Heinrich von Füger

Elmgreen & Dragset

Dmitrij Moor

Ludovico Carracci

Wilhelm Marstrand

Francis Danby

Pavel Skalja

Anika Schwarzlose

Hubert Lanzinger

Nicolas Colombel

Jani Leinonen

Bertel Thorvaldsen

Leni Riefenstahl

Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst

Nicolai Abraham Abildgaard

William Hodges

Nicolas Régnier

Shana Moulton

Fritz Melbye

Abraham Janssens

Antonio Bellucci

Pieter Claesz

Peter Paul Rubens

Vladimir Stenberg

Jakob van Loo

Pieter Brueghel the Younger

Joseph Dufour

Martinus Christian Rørbye

Jean-Gabriel Charvet

L.A. Schou

Albrecht Dürer

Francois Boucher

Poul Gernes

Carlo Dolci

Henry Fuseli

Jacob Isaacz. Van Swanenburgh

S. Adlin

Ferraú Fenzoni

Sam Durant

Ferdinand Bol

Pierre-Paul Prud'hon

Kader Attia

Horace Vernet

Lucas Cranach the Elder

Ippolit Filppov

Hendrik van Steenwijck the Elder

John Akomfrah

John Akomfrah

Nicolas Chaperon

Peter Nicolai Arbo

C.A. Lorentzen

Felice Ficherelli

Anri Sala

Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer

Master I.W.

Frederik von Scholten

C.W. Eckersberg

Giovanni Pietro Rizzoli

Marguerite Humeau

Balthasar van der Ast

Helene Nymann


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