A Postcard from Stockholm (Part 2 – The Museums)

Hello again! As promised, here is part 2 of my Postcard from Stockholm…

As I mentioned in the first part of my Postcard from Stockholm last week, we visited a few museums and tourist sites while we were visiting the beautiful capital city of Sweden. Our first museum visit was to the ABBA Museum in Djurgårdsvägen. It’s an amazing place, which charts the lives of the four band members from their childhoods, to their first meetings and the relationships which developed.

Their Eurovision Song Contest winning medal was on display with many pieces of memorabilia from their time at the top of the charts. There were mock ups of recording studios they used…

…and even their costume making department, which I particularly enjoyed being a dressmaking student myself.

Many of their stage costumes were there for you to admire up close too…

I couldn’t get over how slim they all were!

The work which must have gone into their costumes was incredible.

They even had the Spitting Image puppets which featured in this video

The museum was such fun, there were Karaoke booths for you to sing along, mixing desks for you to have a go at recreating the ‘ABBA sound’, a stage where you could dance and sing along with holograms of the band and I even got to sit in a helicopter just like the one which featured on the album cover ‘Arrival’.

I had a whale of a time and on a couple of occasions was disowned by my teenaged travelling companion. But it would have been rude not to have completely got involved in everything – don’t you think?!

I would highly recommend a visit to any ABBA fan, whether you remember the music the first time round or whether only came to know them recently through the Mama Mia films. ABBA, thank you for the music!

Nordiska Museet

The imposing building of the Nordiska Museet is just one tram stop along from the ABBA Museum in Djurgårdsvägen. Initially built to house exhibits from all the Nordic countries, it now only houses items from Sweden.

Inside it was equally beautiful…

And this rather portly regal gentleman welcomed us in…

King Gustav Vasa

The museum itself is dedicated to the cultural history of Sweden as well as its ethnography. Our first port of call was the exhibition detailing how Swedish homes have evolved over the years beginning with a typical farmer’s dwelling, which would have been shared with workers and livestock – especially in the cold winter months.

Right through to a 1960s style government built apartment, then a modern home decked out for a mid-summer celebration.

There was also an extensive collection of Swedish furniture over the years.

The exhibits which resonated with me most of all were the ones featuring arts and crafts. From the beautifully decorated clothes worn by the native Sami people..

To the folk art and traditional dowry gifts made ahead of weddings.

The embroidery was just beautiful…

Sweden is famous for its woven fabrics and literally thousands of examples of weaving were on display.

There was even a woven pictorial bible…

One exhibition which was right up my street was one dedicated to women’s fashion in the 1950s & 1960s and particularly home sewing.

Oh, to have a nipped-in waist to be able to carry one of those dresses off!!

City Hall (Stadshuset)

Another interesting place we visited while on our Stockholm adventure was the City Hall (pictured below in the view from our hotel room) on the island of Kungsholmen.

This beautiful red brick building is less than 100 years old and was built as a home for the local city council.

As it’s a functioning building and home to the City Council of Stockholm known as Stadshuset, tourists aren’t allowed to wander around at will. We signed up for one of the English speaking tours and were taken around by a lovely guide called Christopher.

The Blue Hall (above) was originally going to be plastered and painted blue but we were told that the architect liked the look of the traditional red bricks so left it like that – but the name stayed! Christopher led us up from the ‘Blue Hall’ and along a corridor which offered views to the internal courtyard below.

We were led into the council chambers which are used on a regular basis for political meetings and debates which can be viewed by the public from the public gallery (see auditorium at the rear of the chamber in photo below).

The ceiling in the chamber was beautiful. It was made to resemble the open roof of a traditional Viking longhouse.

As was the ceiling in one of the stairwells…

Above this ceiling stands the tower which has on its summit the three golden crowns, the crest of Stockholm. Our tour guide told us that as the tower was being built, a civic building in Copenhagen was also being built at the same time. As the Danish tower was taller than this one, the plans were altered to extend the original tower height, so that this one would stand 1 metre taller!

On from the stair well and into this beautiful hall, known as the Princes’ Gallery…

….where the walls were covered by murals painted by royalty – Prince Eugen.

Our next room was a true show stopper- the Golden Hall…

At the far end, the image shows the Queen of Lake Mälaren who sits on a throne and has the city of Stockholm on her lap. To her left is the western world, complete with the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower and the Tower of London among other images of the ‘West’.

And to her right lie images of the East including an elephant, tiger and camel.

Stockholm’s industry and important Swedish historical figures as well as other significant chapters in the city’s past were depicted in the stunning mosaics.

It’s an absolutely mind blowing place – and to think all this mosaic work was completed in just 2 years!

We left the Golden Hall to return to the Blue Hall again, where we learned about its role in important celebrations. It is here where Nobel Prize winners are entertained with a banquet after the prize giving ceremony.

And those stairs down below were specially designed to assist the prize winners and other dignitaries (especially the ladies in their long dresses and high heels) navigate the stairs on their way down to the banquet while all eyes are upon them.

The stairs are apparently shallower in depth but are longer in length than ‘normal’ stairs to allow for a graceful descent and a special star (below) carved in the wall ahead is the point at which you should look to prevent you from falling or from looking down so the press photographers can get a decent photo of you!

Our tour was finished as we left the Blue Hall and said our thanks and goodbyes to Christopher, then we went outside to cross the courtyard and see the gardens and waterfront on the other side of the Stadshuset.

It was rather nippy outside for us Southern softies from the Med! We don’t see ice on the water where live!

Our trip to Stockholm was truly lovely, and if you ever get the chance to visit it for yourself, I’d highly recommend it. We were made to feel so welcome, and we hope one day, that we will be able to return.