Museum Ovartaci,
Aarhus University Hospital, Risskov

Artists in the Museum  -  An unusual Museum - why?  - Museum profile - "Connecting the European Mind" - Prague 2009


Museum Ovartaci, Aarhus University Hospital, Risskov is one of the most extensive of its kind in Europe.  It is unique and special in combining traditional museum activities with the many open workshops and studios in use today. The Psychiatric Historical Museum and the Art Museum share an area of more than 2000 m2. The Museum is located in one of the Hospital's original, fine and distinctive buildings, designed by the famous architect G. Bindesböll and opened in 1852. In those days the "Jydske Asyl" (Asylum of Jutland) represented a new and humanitarian era.

The Psychiatric Historical Museum presents an extensive collection of i.e. furniture from 1st, 2nd and 3rd board characteristic of the period, kitchen utensils, medical tools, patient artefacts and tools from the Hospital workshop. The exhibition contributes to demystifying mental illness through a thoughtprovoking insight into the fate and lives of people in an otherwise secluded and obscure world. It tells us a very distinctive chapter of Danish history, from a psychiatric point of view, and reflects the social climate of contemporary society.

The Art Museum is situated in the ground floor of the Museum Building. All works of art are created by mentally ill artists, the majority of whom have been admitted to the Hospital. The most famous artist represented in the Art Museum is Louis Marcussen, a.k.a. Ovartaci. Through all of his 56 years of hospitalisation Ovartaci produced drawings, paintings and poems as well as machines and sculptures. The works of Ovartaci offer a rare opportunity to look into his strange and fascinating universe. The Art Museum owns more than 6.000 works of art. 850 of these are exhibited at the Museum, representing 86 artists.

An unusual Museum – why?

A Multidimensional Museum that brings you close to the history of psychiatry – where the old buildings by architect Bindesboell and the historical exhibition in unison form a rare picture of an otherwise secluded world.

Furthermore, the Museum represents a unique, continuous and vibrant centre of creativity in crafts, galleries etc.

The Art Museum and its ongoing activities are evidence of the fact that art, living it and creating it, is of the greatest importance to the mentally ill – indeed to us all. Artistic expression is a valuable factor in acknowledging and coming to terms with reality – and in the individual, personal development. The art on display is charaterized by its lack of compromise – a quality pursued by many artists throughout the times.

In the Museum we strive to facilitate the meeting between the different aspects – between history, art and man.

Manager of the Museum: Mia Lejsted Bonde
Protector of the Museum: Per Kirkeby

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