The Hallwyl Museum is a Swedish state cultural history museum in Stockholm, housed in the Hallwyl Palace on Hamngatan 4. Hamngatan facing Berzelii Park. The house once belonged to the Count and Countess von Hallwyl, but was donated to the Swedish state in 1920 to eventually become a museum. In 1938, the museum was officially opened.
The house was built as a Stockholm residence for Walther and Wilhelmina von Hallwyl after drawings by Isak Gustaf Clason and his colleague Albert Collett. The couple moved into the newly erected building in 1898.
Wilhelmina von Hallwyl had acquired large collections of art, antiques, weapons, porcelain and silver and decided early on to preserve his home as a museum. The Hallwilian collection comprises over 50,000 well-documented objects. The makers of Hallwyl inherited in 1920 the palace and equipment for the Swedish state. The museum was opened to the public in 1938. The museum was part of the authority Livrustkammaren and Skokloster’s castle with the Foundation Hallwylska museum between 1978 and 2017. Since the turn of the year 2017/2018 it has been included in the authority the State Historical Museums.
The spouses von Hallwyl were tenants in the Fersenska palace when they bought the plot on Hamngatan 4. In the neighborhood there were then dilapidated street houses and workshops but Strandvägen and the esplanade systems at Östermalm had begun to be planned. The house on Hamngatan 4 had belonged to a stonecutter named Dubois. The couple wanted to buy a plot further down Strandvägen owned by the City of Stockholm. The city wanted to keep the site to build its own splendor in the new neighborhoods and 10 years later the Dramaten started to be built on that site.
The count wanted a new accommodation, among other things, because they did not agree with the owner of the Persian palace, Nils Georg Sörensen, about the electrification of the floor. In addition, the Countess wished to have space for her collections.
The Countess was very involved in the construction of the house, according to her own statement that she had the opportunity to prepare the couple’s first home at Erikslund’s manor in Södermanland which the Count prepared. She had not seen that house before moving in because it was traditionally the man’s job. Every Saturday and Wednesday she was there, and had opinions, when architect Isak Gustaf Clason inspected the building.
The building, which came to cover over 2,000 square meters and some 40 rooms, was already built from the beginning to the county couple as the daughters were already adults and had left home. The spouses themselves never called the building the palace but said “Hamngatan 4” or simply “the house”.
The architect Isak Gustaf Clason was commissioned to design the house in 1893 and the Countess moved in 1898. The architect had previously built the director’s villa at the Ljusne-Woxna AB mill in Hälsingland for the family.
The building’s street façade has a pedestal made of red granite, which goes back into the gate. The street facade is otherwise made of red gable sandstone. The courtyard facades are made with pedestals, scopes around gates and windows as well as moldings and the entire foundation part of granite. The walls are plastered and the yard is completely enclosed. The street architecture, the courtyard architecture and the design of the pedestrian-street entrance have Spanish-Venetian motifs and role models.
The building’s approximately 40 rooms are spread over five floors. The kitchen and associated spaces are below ground level, while the ground floor contains reception rooms, dressing rooms and the east wing office space originally intended for the family business. Upstairs are the living rooms, and bedrooms and bathrooms are located two stairs up. The penthouse was furnished with a skating rink, picture gallery and the county’s gymnasium.
The palace was one of the most expensive Swedish private homes around the turn of the century in 1900. The building cost a total of SEK 2.5 million to be erected and renovated, which can be compared with the Church of St. John built at the same time for about SEK 800,000. Form and content represent the building of the late 19th century historical romantic architecture. The furnishings exhibit a range of historical styles with precious material choices, with antiquities from the Baroque and Rococo period exclusive decor and artistic decoration. Most were bought from Bukowski’s but also from contacts in Europe during the couple’s travels.
Much of the furniture that was not purchased as antiques was designed by architect Isak Gustaf Clason to fit the rest of the décor, including the couple’s beds and the 36 dining chairs. Carpentry master Carl Herman Benckert Jr was then hired for the carpentry work.
The ceilings in the Great Salon were made by artist Julius Kronberg, who was also hired for other decorative paintings in both interiors and paintings. Julius Kronberg has painted several portraits of family members. His student Nils Asplund is also responsible for several works, both portrait and interior. It is Nils Asplund who did the ceiling painting in the Tavelgalleriet.
The house was furnished according to classic style ideal while the contemporary Art Nouveau style was not represented at all in the home. Since the house had central heating, there are no tile stoves in the house.
In addition to central heating, there are other modernities in the house that already had electric lighting in all rooms, a personal elevator, a food elevator and a bathroom with running hot water, bath and shower. Already in 1929, two refrigerators, manufactured by General Motors, were purchased for the kitchen. The passenger elevator was installed in 1896 late in the construction phase and is rarely used. It was out of order between the years 1909 and 1920, again to be used by the Count when his health deteriorated. The Countess disliked the lift and preferred the stairs. Ironically, she died in the suites of a fall in one of the building’s stairs at the age of 86.
Wilhelmina von Hallwyl had acquired large collections of art, antiques, weapons, porcelain and silver and decided early on to preserve his home as a museum. The first item in her collections is a seashell she got from her father as a child. The item still remains as part of her seashell collection.
From the beginning, she intended to donate her collections to the state only. Later, she revised the gift to include in addition to the collections the entire house and show the home environment including everyday objects. The idea was to preserve and show a patrician home in Stockholm during the turn of the 1900s. According to the donation letter, the house would appear “undisturbed” and appear as it had been when the countess lived in the house.
The decision became public in 1920 and the surrender was officially made the New Year 1921. The countess would use the house until their death and then the collections and the building would be opened to the public. The husband died as early as 1921, but the Countess and several employees worked to catalog all the objects in the house. All items were also marked with inventory numbers, including items that were used or stood in front. In addition to cataloging, the collections were prepared in other ways for viewing. The Countess made plans for how the barrier rope would be pulled and made glass hoods and booths for parts of the collections. The collections had also become so large that they took over several rooms that were intended for other purposes, for example, booths and display cabinets were placed both on the bowling alley and in the gym room. Globes, cones and implements are still fully visible or somewhat obscured.
The catalog was not completed until 1955, it then consisted of 78 tapes printed in 110 copies. In addition to the specimens found in the Hallwyl Museum and a copy to the Royal Library, the catalog was sent to several of the world’s museums and libraries. The entire catalog has been digitized and is available on the museum’s website.
The Countess died in 1930 and the museum was opened to the public in 1938. The statutes stipulate that the head of the museum should be a woman, a doctor of philosophy and of Protestant faith. The first manager was Eva Bergman and she held the service until 1973. Since then, among others, Magnus Hagberg has been museum director.
In addition to being the premises for the Hallwyl Museum collections, the Hallwyl Palace’s rooms are also part of the museum itself. The building has over 40 rooms spread over five floors. The kitchen and associated spaces are below ground level, while the ground floor contains reception rooms, dressing rooms and the east wing office space originally intended for the family business. Upstairs are the living rooms, and bedrooms and bathrooms are located two stairs up. The penthouse was furnished with a skating rink, picture gallery and the county’s gymnasium.
The furnishings show a range of historical styles with precious material choices, exclusive furnishings with antiquities from the Baroque and Rococo period, and artistic decoration. Most were bought from Bukowski’s but also from contacts in Europe during the couple’s travels.
Much of the furniture that was not purchased as antiques was designed by the house’s architect Isak Gustaf Clason to fit the rest of the interior, including the couple’s beds and the 36 dining chairs. Carpentry master Carl Herman Benckert Jr was then hired for the carpentry work.
The house was furnished according to classic style ideal while the contemporary Art Nouveau style is not represented at all in the home. Since the house had central heating from the beginning, there are only a few stoves in the house.
In addition to central heating, there are other modernities in the house that already had electric lighting in all rooms, a personal elevator, a food elevator and a bathroom with running hot water, bath and shower. Already in 1929, two refrigerators were purchased, made by General Motors for the kitchen. The passenger elevator was planned late in the construction phase and was rarely used. It was out of order between the years 1909 and 1920, again to be used by the Count when his health deteriorated. The Countess disliked the lift and preferred the stairs. Ironically, she died in the suites of a fall in one of the building’s stairs at the age of 85.
The dining room is Baroque and Renaissance style, the cabinet is made in Switzerland and the Renaissance coffin at the window is German. Both are dated to about the year 1600. To these, the house’s architect Isak Gustaf Clason has designed the dining room furniture. The 36 chairs and table were manufactured by master carpenter Carl Herman Benckert Jr. The room’s walls are clad in oak and the woven wallpapers, the verdures, are probably made in Lille in northern France in the early 18th century. Above the double doors, the family hangs Hallwyl’s arms, black eagle wings against the gold bottom.
The little salon was a lounge for the ladies, where they would retire after dinner. The style is rococo which was considered feminine in the late 19th century.
The room’s intarsiad decorations are made by carpenter master Benckert’s company. The furniture is French in the 18th century, except the office which is Italian and the cabinet is probably Dutch but also from the 18th century. The electrified chandelier is also 18th century.
The style of the large salon is gold baroque according to Swedish 18th century. The architect’s starting point was four Brussels wallpapers in a suite of six; two hanging in the Little salon. They were bought in 1894 by the Countess.
The wing is a Steinway & Sons from 1896, but the black case has been replaced with a case in a Baroque inspired style.
The sculptor Gusten Lindberg has made the three door frames depicting the art forms the music, the poem and the image. He has also made the relief above the fireplace in carraram marble.
The smoking room
The smoking room was the men’s equivalent of the Little Lounge. In the smoking room, the men would retire to smoke and read. Preferably dressed in fez, oriental smoking robes and slippers. The smoking room in the Hallwyl Palace has quite a few oriental features. The seating is partly covered with Turkmen rugs and tent bags. On the floor is a Persian rug.
This is where the little family went about everyday after dinner. The Countess and her lady played cards with the Count, drank coffee, read or talked. The desk, which was the Count’s, was left untouched after his passing.
The couple’s daughter’s son Rolf de Maré was a good friend of Nils Dardel in Paris and a portrait of the daughter’s son that Nils Dardel made hangs in the room. The Countess did not appreciate modern art and neither this work nor any of Nils Dardel’s work. Here is also a portrait of the Countess made by Julius Kronberg. The portrait is unusual for its time because the Countess looks straight into the picture, has simple clothes and simple hair set. Opposite is another painting by Julius Kronberg on the daughter Irma von Geijer in a more typical style.
The weapons room
The armory contains the bulk of the collection’s weapons and armor. Among other things, two Turkish combat suits from the 15th century and German armor from the late 16th century. In one of these, a wax doll was placed and when the grandchildren came to visit it was stated that they would be frightened by the man behind the visor when it was lifted. Between these stands a saddle which is said to have belonged to Johan Banér, who was a field master during the thirty-year war.
There are also rifles, pistols and shiny weapons from the 16th century onwards.
The billiard room
The pool room is decorated in the Renaissance and Baroque style. The pool table was designed by architect Clason and was a Christmas present to the Count in 1898. The panels of the walls are made of walnut wood and the roof a cassette roof.
Above the wall-mounted bench can be seen the four cardinal virtues: justice, endurance, wisdom and moderation.
Around the panels are carved shields with weapons belonging to the women who, through the centuries, married into the Hallwyl family.
The porcelain room
The porcelain room was originally designed for and decorated for the porcelain collection. The ceiling painting was done by Nils Asplund.
The living room
The living room was the Countess’s room. Here she had her desk, a Swedish baroque table from the 18th century. At the desk she handled her correspondence and here she received visits.
The chandelier is in empirical style and has belonged to Queen Desideria.
In the fund’s staircase, family portraits depend on the Count’s family. The portrait is copies from the portrait collection in Switzerland that the Countess had made. Artist Julius Kronberg was commissioned to make the copies. They were made in the late 1910s and when the copies were complete the originals were sent back to Switzerland.
There are also four oval original works by French-Hungarian artist Edouard Boutibonne. They are made in 1865 and show the Count couple and Countess’s parents.
The bathroom consists of an empty surface with the possibility of undressing or sitting by a heat lamp. At one end is an elevated area with bathtub and shower in carraram marble. The bath is filled from below so that the water rises and has both hot and cold water. The bathroom was not used for daily hygiene, but as a private spa experience on special occasions. The Countess preferred to bathe in a wooden tub that had to be filled manually with buckets. The daily hygiene was handled by a lava in the bed room with wash basins and jugs.
From the beginning, the attic was a regular breeze, but among other things to accommodate the growing number of paintings was furnished in 1905. In addition to a picture gallery, a skating rink and a training room were also built for the Countess and her physiotherapist.
The Tables Gallery
The picture gallery was made as an overhead light room with large light inlets of daylight in the ceiling. Today there is electric lighting in the light inputs. The ceiling was painted by Nils Asplund, a trompe l’œil of gold bars against a green background. In particular, paintings from the Dutch Golden Age were hung by painters such as Frans Hals, Pieter Brueghel, Pieter Aertsen and Frans Floris. Here also hangs a painting that was bought in the belief that it was a Rembrandt. It was the single most expensive item in the collection and was purchased for SEK 60,000. Subsequent investigations have shown that the painting is painted in the 18th or 19th centuries, something the Countess never became aware of. The paintings all have a black frame and were hung tightly on the green glazed walls. Today the walls are bleached and the laser can only be seen, but it is visible behind the paintings.
The skating rink
A few steps up, along the picture gallery runs a skating rink. The skating rink was used extensively by the count’s daughter’s son, Rolf de Maré, who lived at Hallwylska palace for extended periods in his youth. At the cones there was a recess in the side where a person could sit in disguise and then set up the cones. The globe was rolled back in a hidden gutter that ran behind one wall to a recess at the tee where the globe gathered. Later, the skating rink was also filled with stands and collection objects, but the skating rink is still intact.
The gym room
In 1920, a room was furnished inside, on the short side of, the Tavelgalleriet as a gymnasium room. Later, it was also filled with display cabinets and booths for silver, glass and ceramics. The tools have been preserved and behind the collections are visible ribs and Roman rings.
Inside the yard was the building’s stable with space for three horses. The Countess bought a car as early as 1908, a Fiat that was changed to a 1915 Mercedes that still remains in the carriage. Therefore, the horses became superfluous early on and the haystack of the stable had to make room for some of the collections. In the middle of the room are two stands with models of the couple’s castle in Switzerland, the Hallwyl Castle. The models show the castle before and after the renovation that the couple financed. On the model of the newly renovated castle it shows during the summer with leaves on the trees and green water in the moat. On the other model, the trees are leafless and the moat and surrounding area look gloomier. There are also several objects from the excavations at the castle.
In the stands along the walls are several everyday items, gifts in the form of smoke to the count, playing cards and social games, pharmaceuticals and medical devices used in the house, and therefore saved rather than collected on. There are also travel memories, an oil lamp collection and a seashell collection including the seashell that the Countess received from her father when she was little and which was her first collector’s item.