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The Architecture

Since 2012, Bildmuseet has been housed in a high-profile seven-storey building made of Siberian larch on the Umeå Art Campus, by the banks of the Umeälven River, next door to the Academy of Fine Arts, the Institute of Design, the School of Architecture and the Curiosum science centre.

Bildmuseet was designed by Henning Larsen Architects in partnership with White. In 2013, the building was nominated for the Swedish Kasper Salin Prize and the European Mies van der Rohe Prize, and it has been described as one of the world’s most beautiful university museums.

"The core of the new Bildmuseet revolves around a few simple questions that are nonetheless fundamental for our activities: What is the optimal exhibition space? How can natural light be combined with art? And, above all: how do we experience art through tempo, concentration and pauses?"
Architect Per Ebbe Hansson, Henning Larsen Architects

Bildmuseet has seven floors and is 36 metres high, on a base of 22 x 22 metres. The façade is a panel of Siberian larch – a wood that will, with the passing years, fade to a light silver-grey – and irregularly placed windows of varied dimensions. Three large exhibition halls with ceilings 5.5 metres high fill each floor and have been allowed to define the form of the building. Around the halls is a narrow external space against the façades, niches that allow natural light to filter in and blend with the warmer artificial lighting. These are places to take a break from experiencing the art and to gaze out over the river, the city and the landscape.

The south-facing stairwell forms a main attraction in itself, with its sculptured stairs, the play of the light, and the views over the river and the countryside. The entrance and reception level takes up the three lowest floors with the museum shop, a studio and a multi-purpose conference hall. In the middle of the building, in the façade defined by a row of windows, are Bildmuseet’s administrative offices.