Historiska Museet (The Swedish History Museum) is a great and interesting museum but, unfortunately, is often overlooked in favor of more famous Stockholm museums like the Vasa Museum and Skansen. A little strange when you consider that Vikings (featured prominently in the museum) are one of the things, historically, that Sweden is most famous for. Last month I was invited to a special showing of the different exhibitions at Historiska, so it is the perfect opportunity for an update (last time I wrote about the museum was waaay back in 2010 in one of my first posts).
One of several Viking runestones at the museum.
The museum is probably best known for "The Gold Room", an amazing collection of silver and gold artifacts and jewellery from the Middle Ages, Viking period and even earlier. Many of the objects have been found by farmers, buried in their fields. Hoards hidden for one reason or another. The amount is impressive... the Gold Room contains a total of 52 kilograms of gold and 200 kilograms of silver. One my favorite items is the bejeweled Elizabeth reliquary.
The Vikings' presence in the museum is not limited to the gold they left behind... there is also an impressive, permanent exhibition at the museum dedicated to our famous ancestors. Here you can learn about Viking culture, history and everyday life. Hopefully you will come away with a better understanding of the Vikings. To start off with, "viking" was actually a profession not a people and while they are most famous for terrorizing Europe, they were more successful as traders and colonizers. Many of the artifacts here come from Birka, the old Viking trading town located just outside Stockholm (and a great place to visit during the summer).
Section of the Viking exhibition,,,
When you consider that the Viking period only stretched for a little more than 250 years, then you understand that Swedish history is more than just the Vikings! The museum has one exhibition which gives a great overview of the history of Sweden from the 11th century until today. Another exhibition that I particularly like looks at medieval art with the majority of objects coming from churches (from Sweden's Catholic past- relics, crucifixes, madonnas and altar pieces).