The history of the museum

Sydvestjyske Museer owns a whole block of Renaissance and 19th-century buildings in the middle of Ribe. When the museum drew up a master plan for the future use of the buildings in 2013, one thing was certain: In Jacob A. Riis’s childhood home in Sortebrødregade 3, a museum was to be set up that would tell about his great importance as a photo-documentary, journalist and social reformer and about his own fascinating life story.

When the financing was in place in 2017, we started the large renovation and museum project. The construction period itself spanned 15 months and was only completed with the opening of the museum in June 2019.

At the end of 2018, we also started the second major renovation and museum project in the block, namely the restoration of Quedens Gaard itself and the furnishing of the museum HEX! Museum of Witch Hunt. It opened in June 2020 and has a joint entrance, ticketing and shop with the Jacob A. Riis Museum.


The Jacob A. Riis Museum has only been able to be established due to large foundation support of a total of 16 million DKK. Augustinus Foundation ensured that we could carry out an extensive restoration of both the childhood home and the adjacent buildings in Sortebrødregade 1, as well as some of the back building for Quedens Gaard.

The Nordea Foundation provided the funds for the museum exhibitions.

A third and smaller source has been our American fundraising organization, the American Friends of Jacob A. Riis Museum. Donations from here have helped to ensure the furnishing of the Jacob A. Riis cinema as well as ongoing communication initiatives.

Cooperation partners

The exhibitions have been developed in collaboration with exhibition architect Eskild Bjerre Laursen.

Jørgen Overbys Tegnestue A/S was responsible for the building renovation of Quedens Gaard karreen. The main contractor was Knud Weiland Aps, Jejsing.

The Opening

The museum was inaugurated on 28 June 2018 with patron, Princess Benedikte at the helm.

The opening ceremony took place in The Old Town Hall in Ribe, where American descendants of Jacob A. Riis were also present as well as representatives from the Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement in New York. The musical content was provided by Anders Koppel, Benjamin Koppel and Alex Riel, where they eminently performed Anders Koppel’s Mulberry Street Symphony, inspired by Jacob A. Riis’ photographs.