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Construction phases

The Færch Villa 1906

Holstebro Kunstmuseum opened in May 1967 in a villa that tobacco merchant Søren Færch (1870-1967) built in 1904, south of the river Storåen and west of the river Vegen Å. It was designed by the renowned architect and royal building inspector Andreas Lauritz Clemmensen (1852-1928), who was also responsible for the main building at Statens Seruminstitut (the State Serum Institute) in Amager and the Paladsteatret cinema on Axeltorv in Copenhagen, as well as numerous residential and church buildings, such as the Immanuel Church for the Copenhagen Voluntary Congregation and Glücksborgernes Kapel (Mausoleum of the Royal House of Glücksborg) at Roskilde Cathedral.

The Færch Villa was designed in the neo-baroque mansion style that was innovative and trend-setting in the period around 1900. The combination of simplicity and ornamentation shows that Clemmensen asserted his artistic freedom in a personal perception of plan solutions and style – with a clear sense of proportion everywhere.

The use of black-glazed tile roofs, attic parapet walls, tondos and ruled rendering was characteristic of buildings in the mansion style.
In the Færch Villa, Clemmensen also emphasised the painterly characteristics of the building in its layout, treatment of materials and detailing.

Andreas Clemmensen was an active member of the artist community around the turn of the last century, and worked several times with, amongst others, Thorvald Bindesbøll, Niels Larsen Stevns and Niels and Joakim Skovgaard. Clemmensen himself decorated a number of jars and dishes, and together with the sculptor Anders Bundgaard he designed the Gefion fountain at Langelinie in Copenhagen.

Overall, Andreas Clemmensen’s lifework stands as a personally characteristic oeuvre that produced empathic and quality-conscious architecture.

The Færch family lived in the Patrician house until 1944, and from 1948 on it was used as the administration block for the tobacco factory. In 1966, the villa was acquired by Holstebro Municipality with the intention of housing the museum of art that had been established in 1965.

The 1981 extension

In February 1976, Holstebro Municipality announced an architectural competition for a museum complex which would contain Holstebro Kunstmuseum in one wing and Holstebro Museum in the other. The Færch Villa was to form the centre of the complex and its shared entrance. A total of 106 proposals were received. In June of the same year, it was announced that the first prize had been awarded to the architect Hanne Kjærholm (1930-2009). 

At the time, Kjærholm had already established a career with her own architectural practice, and in 1989 she became the first female professor of architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture.

On 11 May 1981, the 1,600 sq. m. wing of the art museum was opened, followed in 1991 by the inauguration of the cultural-historical Holstebro Museum, which in architectural features differs only in a few details from the art museum wing.

The museum complex is characterised by constructive clarity, with two basic elements in mutual combination: a 5 x 5 sq. m. module and a three-metre wide space of varying length, with consistent arches and skylights. The light pavilion architecture allows for many different types of spaces, and has been designed to accommodate a high degree of flexibility and variation. According to Kjærholm, the decentrally arranged plan solution was intended to create a stimulating architectural passage in “spaces that appear characteristic and well-proportioned, but not intrusive.”

Hanne Kjærholm not only drew inspiration from international modernism, but also incorporated features from Japanese architecture in the fluid sequence of spaces. A number of distinctive elements from Clemmenen’s original villa have also served as inspiration in the design. The proportions of the module thus echo the villa’s existing scale ratio, and the semi-circular vaults of the skylights are reinforced by the arch motifs of the frontispiece at the top of the villa facade towards the gardens. The mainstay pillars of the facade also find their echo in the extension.

A prevailing characteristic of Hanne Kjærholm’s work is her use of the play of daylight and its space-creating qualities. The light incidence varies between north-facing skylights which are optimal for paintings, and side lights which are well suited to sculptures. Some rooms are completely free of daylight and thereby ideal for displaying works on paper.

The museum complex shows contrasts in its use of materials: Øland tiles, roughcast and whitewashed masonry walls, adorned at the base with white-glazed tiles. The pillars and the cassette ceilings are in concrete, while the windows are in aluminium profiles and wood. The wall panels consist externally of window bars and riveted-on aluminium panels. All in all, the building, with its ‘natural’ materials and subdued colour scheme, relates in a neutral manner to the artworks and their colours.

Hanne Kjærholm wished the buildings and their fixtures to form a harmonious whole, and she therefore also designed the interior and seating group in this space. The exhibition rooms of the art museum are also equipped with sofas, stools, tables and chairs by the furniture architect Poul Kjærholm (1929-80), who was married to Hanne Kjærholm from 1953 until his death.

Construction phases

Holstebro Kunstmuseum seen from Sønderbrogade, 1981

Færchfløjen 2011

In March 2009 it was announced that Holstebro Kunstmuseum would once again be extended. The Færch Foundation was behind the generous donation, and architect Hanne Kjærholm managed to design most of the extension to her ‘museum child’, as she called it.

After Kjærholm’s death on 22 June 2009, local architect Niels Christian Andersen of Søren Andersen Architects became responsible for the extension. The first sod was turned on 14 August 2009, and on 26 February 2011 the Færch Wing was inaugurated as a special exhibition area. The art museum now encompasses a total of 3,250 square metres. 

In connection with the 1981 extension, Kjærholm described its building system as “a structuralist principle that allows for continued growth”. The Færch wing is essentially a continuation of the museum building from 1981 in its architecture and materials, with a number of varied exhibition rooms grouped around a central, high-ceilinged hall.

Today, Holstebro Kunstmuseum, and the museum complex as a whole, is considered a principle work in Hanne Kjærholm’s oeuvre.

Refurbishments and extensions 2017-2019

In the late summer of 2018, Holstebro Kunstmuseum and Holstebro Museum acquired new access facilities, a new café and shop, and a shared lecture hall. In autumn 2019, Holstebro Museum reopened after the refurbishment. 

Construction phases

The museums, Holstebro 2019

Forecourt 2019

In the summer of 2019, the museums' forecourt was inaugurated. The artistic ornamental paving was created by Martin Erik Andersen (b. 1964) and made of four types of granite stone of varying color and texture. Together, the stones form a complex 12-pointed star pattern inspired by the stele mosaics in Ibrahim Agha al-Mustahfizan's mausoleum. The mausoleum is located in the Aqsunqur Mosque in Cairo and dates back to the 17th century.

The pavement is laid out over a central axis with sculptor Astrid Noack's (1858-1954) sculpture Anna Ancher (1939) as the central focal point. In addition to the museums' unique architecture, Martin Erik Andersen's work relates to the art museum's collection. Highlighting its connections between Western and non-Western art.

Construction phases

Photo: Martin Erik Andersen, 2019


Om pladsens visuelle udformning udtaler Martin Erik Andersen:
Ornamentik og mønsterdannelse har historisk set haft en kulturelt overskridende karakter. De er med andre ord til stadighed blevet udvekslet på tværs af religiøse, magtpolitiske og økonomiske skel. Kulturhistorisk set er der ikke en skarp grænse mellem vestlig og østlig ornamentik. Al islamisk ornamentik bygger strukturelt set på euklidisk cirkelslagsgeometri, og har dermed haft et løbende dekorativt feedback til europæisk kultur”.

Martin Erik Andersen har set det som sin opgave at ændre arealet foran museumsvillaen fra at være en praktisk og ordinær ankomst til at udgøre en imødekommende og æstetisk helhed. Ifølge kunstneren er en plads med en centreret skulptur ”vores højeste positive udtryk for fælles identitet i det udendørs offentlige rum”.

Forpladsen er skabt i velvilligt samarbejde med Kaj Bech A/S og Søren Andersen Arkitekter med generøs støtte fra Holstebro Kommune og Ny Carlsbergfondet.  

On the visual design of the forecourt, Martin Erik Andersen says:
"Historically speaking, ornamentation and pattern formation have had a culturally transgressive character. In other words, they have constantly been exchanged across religious, political and economic divides. From a cultural historical point of view, there is no sharp boundary between western and eastern ornamentation. All Islamic ornamentation is structurally based on Euclidean circular geometry, and thus has had a continuous decorative feedback to European culture”.

Martin Erik Andersen has seen it as his task to change the area in front of the museum villa from being a practical and ordinary arrival to form a welcoming and aesthetic whole. According to the artist, a forecourt with a centered sculpture is "our highest positive expression of common identity in the outdoor public space".

The ornamental, artistic surfacing of the museums’ forecourt has been carried out with the kind collaboration of Kaj Bech A/S and Søren Andersen Architects, with generous support from Holstebro Municipality and the Ny Carlsberg Foundation.