October 18, 2018

The National Museum Reopens!

Big news! In February of 2013, The National Museum in Stockholm closed for renovations and last week (on October 13th), after 5½ years, they finally opened again for the public. Not only is the National Museum Sweden's premiere museum for classic art and design, it is also one of Europe's oldest art museums... so it has been sorely missed in Stockholm while it was closed. The beautiful staircase in the center of the building is worth a visit itself. I, of course, made sure to stop by the museum on its opening weekend!
Besides cosmetic touch-ups, the renovations have included a large modernization of the museum, an addition of a sculpture garden and new restaurant as well as being expanded to allow it to take twice as many visitors and display three times the amount of art than previously. The king and queen were present to cut the ribbon at the grand opening on Saturday.
The museum was founded in 1794 as "the Royal Museum" and got its start as art collections of members of the royal family, before being taken over by the Swedish state. It moved to its current location, a beautiful building designed by Friedrich August Stüler, in 1866. The building contains three floors and is dominated by the aforementioned grand staircase in the middle.
While not as huge as The Louvre, Metropolitan Museum of Art or the British Museum... the National Museum is still large enough that it is hard to see everything properly in one visit, unless you just stroll through certain exhibitions. Luckily, the majority of the museum has free admission, so it is not a problem to visit the museum on multiple days if you wish. The museum may charge admission to certain temporary exhibitions.
The collections are exhibitied chronologically, from the 1500's to today and both art and design objects are shown together. This allows you to move through the museum in a logical order, getting a better feel of the different eras or, if you wish, just to concentrate your visit on the art and design of a certain time period. Besides classical and fine art, parts of the museum do focus primarily on design and design history.
Currently, they have two temporary exhibitions. A&E Design, showing the designs, some quite famous) of the Swedish company A&E Design and an exhibition of the work of John Singer Sargent, an American artist who spent much of his life in Europe. Considered by many to be one of the most influential artists from the turn of the last century, Sargent's works include many beautiful portraits and landscapes. Both exhibitions run until January 13th and cost 150 SEK (one ticket for both exhibitions).
I did enjoy their new sculpture courtyard on the ground floor, where the restaurant was once located, for those of you who have visited the museum before the renovations. This is a nice place to sit and reflect under the gaze of the Norse gods Odin, Thor and Baldur. I have heard good things about their new restaurant, but didn't have time to try it on this visit. They do also have a special exhibition for children called Villa Curiosa.
The National Museum is located on the waterfront of the downtown area. About a 30 minute walk through the old town (Gamla Stan) from the Hotel Rival, you can also take the bus or subway (closest subway stop is Kungsträdgården on the blue line). The National Museum is closed on Mondays and is open extra late (9pm) on Thursdays.



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