March 1, 2012

A Slice of Heaven: A Rainbow Installation on the Rooftop of a Danish Art Museum

It’s not for every design competition that participants have to consider Dante Alighieri’s La Divina Comedia. But it was required reading at Studio Olafur Eliasson when it was competing against four other firms to win the commission for a permanent installation on the roof of the ARoS Aarhus Art Museum in Denmark. That’s because the 2004 building was designed as a metaphor for the epic poem. From the basement, containing nine galleries analogous to the nine circles of hell, a staircase spirals up like the purifying slope of purgatory, eventually reaching a rooftop meant to represent paradise. Olafur Eliasson’s heavenly vision, a viewing platform called Your Rainbow Panorama, was the unanimous winner.


Hovering over the museum building like a halo 536 feet in circumference, the ring structure is supported by slender steel columns and enclosed by glass sandwiching foil in every color of the spectrum. The deck beneath is a Forest Stewardship Council-certified Asian hardwood, as are the built-in benches that turn the roof into public space and participatory artwork simultaneously. According to Eliasson’s artist statement, Your Rainbow Panorama is “a vehicle for looking anew.” It’s also a vehicle for connecting, WiFi included.

Photography by Quintin Lake/View Pictures.

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