Mythologies – The Beginning and End of Civilizations

Mythologies – The Beginning and End of Civilizations

ARoS Aarhus Art Museum

Nicolas Régnier, David with the head of Goliath, 17th century. Oil on canvas, 98 x 123 cm. Collection of the National Museum in Belgrade.

April 6, 2020
Mythologies – The Beginning and End of Civilizations
April 14–October 18, 2020
ARoS Aarhus Art Museum
Aros Allé 2
8000 Aarhus
Hours: Tuesday–Friday 10am–9pm,
Saturday–Sunday 10am–5pm

T +45 87 30 66 00

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 150 works loaned from 17 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 16th 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

Press contact
Anne Riis, ari [​at​]
T 0045 28884464
Jens Henrik Daugaard, jehd [​at​]
T 0045 28884467

RSVP for Mythologies – The Beginning and End of Civilizations
ARoS Aarhus Art Museum
April 6, 2020

Thank you for your RSVP.

ARoS Aarhus Art Museum will be in touch.


e-flux announcements are emailed press releases for art exhibitions from all over the world.

Agenda delivers news from galleries, art spaces, and publications, while Criticism publishes reviews of exhibitions and books.

Architecture announcements cover current architecture and design projects, symposia, exhibitions, and publications from all over the world.

Film announcements are newsletters about screenings, film festivals, and exhibitions of moving image.

Education announces academic employment opportunities, calls for applications, symposia, publications, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Sign up to receive information about events organized by e-flux at e-flux Screening Room, Bar Laika, or elsewhere.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.