HISTORY OF THE MUSEUM
The story behind the Skovgaard Museum begins with the
decoration of Viborg Cathedral. In 1726 a fire destroyed large
parts of the town, including the cathedral, which was then rebuilt
by the architect Claus Stallknecht. Stallknecht's cathedral was
demolished in 1863 and reconstructed in a medieval, romanesque
style, completed in 1876. The Danish artist F.C. Lund decorated the
ceiling of the central nave in the mid-1870's, but after only a
couple of decades the town of Viborg wanted an additional
decoration of the walls and vaults. The artist Joakim Skovgaard,
who as a young art student had assisted F.C. Lund in his
work with the cathedral, was commissioned to create a new
Between 1901 and 1906, Joakim Skovgaard, along with a number of
assistants, decorated the walls and vaults of the cathedral with 51
frescoes. He returned in 1912 to 1913, in order
to add a new ceiling decoration, this time using oil
paint on wood, replacing Lund's original ceiling. The
result was the most comprehensive architectural decoration ever
created in Denmark, an extraordinary and innovative artistic feat
that to this day stands as one of the masterpieces of Danish
CREATION OF THE MUSEUM
The town of Viborg were so proud of their new decorated cathedral,
that they decided to honour Joakim Skovgaard with a
museum. However, Joakim Skovgaard requested that the museum should
represent the entire Skovgaard family and not just himself, as
numerous other members of his family also were gifted artists.
In return, the Skovgaard family would donate their private art
collection to the museum.
In 1937 the museum opened just across from the cathedral, in
the building adjacent to the current museum building. Over the
years, the museum has been housed in different buildings, but
always in close proximity of the cathedral. The collection has
grown over the years through continuing donations from the
family as well as acquisitions made by the museum itself. Today it
includes not only works by the Skovgaard family of artists,
but also their contemporaries and others, together
making the collection a rich representation of danish art
and crafts from around 1830-1960. Of particular note is the
collection of furniture, ceramics and silverware by Thorvald
Bindesbøll, one of Denmark's first great designers, who was a close
friend and partner to Joakim Skovgaard.
THE FAMILY ARTISTS
Joakim Skovgaard's father, Peter Christian Skovgaard, known as P.
C. Skovgaard (1817-1875), is one of the master landscape
painters from what is called the Golden Age of Danish painting
(1800-1850). He represents a generation of painters who depicted a
nationalist and romantic version of the Danish landscape. A
selection of his works are displayed in the upper floor
of the museum.
P.C. Skovgaard was married to Georgia Schouw (1828-1868).
Together they had three children, who would all become
artists. Their sons Joakim (1856-1933) and Niels
(1858-1938) produced landscape paintings like their father,
but they were also at the forefront of the breakthrough to
symbolism and a new interpretation of motifs from the Bible as well
as Nordic mythology. Their works may be seen on the lower floor of
the Skovgaard Museum. Their younger sister Susette (1863-1937) was
also a painter and ceramicist. Many of the three Skovgaard
siblings' children also pursued artistic careers.
The Skovgaard Museum shows temporary exhibitions throughout the
year. The exhibitions range from nineteenth century to contemporary
art and are related to the different aspects of the permanent
collection. The exhibitions create different perspectives on the
museum collection, but at the same time the collection also lends
new perspectives to perceiving the temporary exhibitions.
THE OLD TOWN HALL
The Skovgaard Museum is situated in Viborg's old town hall from
1728, built by the German architect Claus Stallknecht, who also
rebuilt the cathedral after the great fire of 1726. The building
and its different rooms have served various purposes over the
years, as ball room, bank, court room, military hospital and many
more. Where the rest room is situated today, prisoners were
held captive while awaiting trial, the iron rings are still
attached to the walls. The front door still has the original lock
from 1729, and you may ask to see the large key used to lock
THE MUSEUM GARDEN
Behind the museum is a small garden with a fountain and flowers.
You can enjoy your lunch at the tables under the trees or buy
ice cream, coffee or cake in the café, which is open during the
THE MUSEUM SHOP
The museum shop sells postcards, books and posters, and various
products made by local artisans.