The Thorvaldsens Museum Archives

The New Galleries in Thorvaldsens Museum Basement by the Architect Jørgen Bo

  • Thomas Kappel,, 1998
  • This is a re-publication of the article:

    Thomas Kappel: ‘The New Galleries in Thorvaldsens Museum Basement by the Architect Jørgen Bo’, in: Meddelelser fra Thorvaldsens Museum (Communications from the Thorvaldsens Museum) p. 1998, p. 186-194.

    For a presentation of the article in its original appearance in Danish, please see this facsimile scan.

English Summary

M.G. Bindesbøll’s work being a 19th-century Danish architectural monument, indeed a museum’s museum and Thorvaldsen’s mausoleum, any addition or supplementation ought to be considered impossible. However, in the basement there might be a way of creating rooms in which to exhibit Thorvaldsen’s drawings, sketches and sculptural technique and to provide a much-favoured place for temporary exhibitions. The basement was redesigned by the architect Kaare Klint in the 1920s, providing exhibition space for Thorvaldsen’s collection of studies. By the 1960s, the interior was felt to be dark and unattractive. In 1966, the architect Jørgen Bo, born in 1919 and by now famous as one of the architects responsible for the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art was given the job of redesigning it, producing a project with whitewashed ceilings and walls in complete contrast to the colourful interiors of the upper floors, and emphasising the intimate atmosphere of the lower rooms. The installations and wiring were hidden behind screens covered with canvas. The floors were covered with dark blue woollen bouclé carpeting. The main corridor in the basement was lined with grey Öland sandstone. Here, a selection of Thorvaldsen’s plaster casts of antique monuments are on show. Jørgen Bo created a lamp for the basement, named after a particularly fine version of Hebe (A875), designed several exhibition cases either to be hung on the wall or to stand like small tables, and devised the doors between the various sections as light structures of white-painted wooden lists. A sofa and a table were made for a room in which to relax (43). In a line from south to north, the small galleries (rooms 50-56) were opened in January 1967, and the long gallery (room 62) in March the same year. The transverse corridor (room 63), the main corridor (room 64) and rooms 44-46 for Thorvaldsen’s clothes and memorabilia and indications of his working methods were all opened on the bicentenary of Thorvaldsen’s birth in November 1970, and Jørgen Bo was able to present a modern and yet timeless interior in the Museum crypt.


Dyveke Helsted: Vedligeholdelse og fornyelse i: Meddelelser fra Thorvaldsens Museum 1970, s. 138-39.

Dyveke Helsted: Vedligeholdelse og fornyelse i: Meddelelser fra Thorvaldsens Museum 1973, s. 140-41.

Kim Dirckinck-Holmfeld: Nyindretning af underetagen i Thorvaldsens Museum, i: Arkitektur DK, 25. årg., nr. 6, 1981, s. 223-26, ill.

Lisbet Balslev Jørgensen: Jørgen Bo som museumsarkitekt i: Museumsmagasinet, nr. 17, september 1981, s. 3-6, ill. (Kælderen behandlet s. 5)

Lisbeth Balslev Jørgensen: Thorvaldsen’s Museum: A Display of Life and Art, 1848-1984, i: The International Journal of Museum Management and Curatorship, nr. 3, 1984, s. 237-50, ill. (Kælderen behandlet s. 247-49).

Thomas Kappel: Jørgen Bo og Vilhelm Wohlerts museumsarkitektur 1958-1991, Specialeafhandling, Københavns Universitet 1992, s. 212, ill. (Kælderen behandlet s. 125-28).

Thomas Kappel: Om museumsarkitekterne Jørgen Bo og Vilhelm Wohlert: Et overblik, i: Arkitektur DK, 38. årg., nr. 3,1994, s. 129-33, ill. (Kælderen nævnt s. 132)

Last updated 11.05.2017