Stockholm's museums


While Stockholm includes many museums, nearly 70 in fact, the small, largely uninhabited island of Skeppsholmen is a small “museum” island in the heart of Stockholm, primarily comprised of the Moderna Museet, celebrating its 50th anniversay in 2008 and featuring modern art; the fascinating Architecture Museum next door, featuring architectural models from early to present day; and the Asian Antiquities Museum. The Swedish Solciety of Crafts and Design, the oldest such craft guild, is next door and has a rather small exhibit area and coffee shop. With its green parkways and trees, Skeppsholmen is a lovely respite from the bustle of cosmopolitan Stockholm. On a sunny day, it’s a great spot to find a spot on the grass and enjoy the views.

The Musikmuseet (Music Museum), in the Ostermalg area is a worthwhile stop for anyone interested in music or with children on hand. First founded in 1899, the present location has several floors of displays featuring about 6,000 musical instruments (not all on display), with plenty of opportunities to listen to musical instruments from various eras, as well as play on them. Kids will have a great time, and adults can learn quite a bit.

Also in the Ostermalm area is the Historiska Museet (History Museum) famous for its Viking exhibit with some 4,000 artifacts, and Gold Room, where works of gold from Sweden’s history are on display.

On the island of Djurgarden is the Vasa Museum, containing the world’s only 17th century battleship on full display. Highly recommended and a “wow” for any age. While I first visited the Wasa in the mid 1970′s, while it was still being sprayed with resin, today the Wasa rests in a permanent location along with an interesting display about what life was like onboard. The ship is adorned by some 700 carved sculptures. Djurgarden is also the location of the Skansen Open Air Museum, Nordic Museum, National Museum of Ethnography and the Liljevalch Art Gallery.

My preference when visiting a country is to find the museum featuring the fine art of that nation. While many of Stockholm’s museums include Swedish art, one sure bet is the National Museum, just at the entrance to Skeppsholmen island, a block from the stately Grand Hotel. Here there’s a collection of 18th and 19th century Swedish paintings worth viewing. There are also several Impressionists’ work and Rembrandts. One floor showcases Scandinavian applied art and design.

In Gamla Stan (Old Town), in addition to the Royal Palace complex, there is the interesting Nobel Museum and Storkyrkan Cathedral. Just across from Gamla Stan is Riddarholm Church, where Swedish royalty is buried.

Slightly further afield, on the island of Lidingo, is Millesgarden, the home of internationally renowned sculptor Carles Milles, set on a beautiful location overlooking the water (and cruise ship pier). Milles’ work is stunning and moving, and well worth the slight effort to get here. (One can take the train and easily connect by bus to the museum.) On five acres here are the artist’s home, studio, and vast grounds with fountains and sculptures. The former gardener’s residence is now a coffee shop where one can enjoy lunch or a snack. Millesgarden is a must!

Pick up a copy of the “Museums in Stockholm” brochure from one of the tourist offices or museums, for a detailed listing of the city’s museums, opening hours, locations and such. Also consider purchasing the Stockholm Card which provides free admissions as well as free public transportation.