Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, Sweden

Nationalmuseum is the national gallery of Sweden, located on the peninsula Blasieholmen in central Stockholm. Nationalmuseum is Sweden’s premier museum of art and design. The collections comprise older paintings, sculpture, drawings and graphic art, and applied art and design up to the present day.

The museum’s benefactors include King Gustav III and Carl Gustaf Tessin. The museum was founded in 1792 as Kungliga Museet (“Royal Museum”), but the present building was opened in 1866, when it was renamed the Nationalmuseum, and used as one of the buildings to hold the 1866 General Industrial Exposition of Stockholm.

The museum is home to about half a million drawings from the Middle Ages to 1900, prominent Rembrandt and Dutch 17th-century collection, and a collection of porcelain items, paintings, sculptures, and modern art as well. The museum also has an art library, open to the public and academics alike.

Nationalmuseum is a Swedish state central museum in Stockholm and Sweden’s largest art museum. The collections consist of painting, sculpture and art on paper from the 16th century to the 20th century, as well as of artwork and design items from the 16th century to the present. The total number of objects amounts to approximately 600,000. The museum is located at Blasieholmen in Stockholm, in a building designed for the purpose of German architect Friedrich August Stüler. The building was completed in 1866 but the history of the museum is older than that and dates back to 28 June 1792 when the Royal Museum was established. The National Museum is thus one of Europe’s oldest art museums.

The collections were moved to Blasieholmen after earlier, in some parts, were kept in the Royal Museum, which opened in 1794 in the northern logs wing at the Royal Palace in Stockholm. Like many other national art museums, collections are a significant part of generations of royal collections, which for various reasons have been transferred to state ownership. For example, works belonging to Gustav Vasa can be seen at the National Museum.

Paintings and sculpture
The Nationalmuseum collections of paintings and sculptures comprise some 16,000 works. Artists such as Rembrandt, Rubens, Goya, Renoir, Degas and Gauguin are represented, as are the Swedish artists Carl Larsson, Ernst Josephson, Carl Fredrik Hill and Anders Zorn. The collection includes art from the late Middle Ages up to the beginning of the 20th century, with the emphasis on Swedish 18th and 19th century painting. Dutch painting from the 17th century is also well represented, and the French 18th century collection is regarded as one of the best in the world.

Design and Applied Arts
The museum’s collection of applied art, design and industrial design spans over a long period, from the 14th century to today. It consists of ca. 30,000 objects of which a third are ceramics and thereafter, in order of numbers, textiles, glass, precious and non-precious metals, furniture, books etc. Form and artistic value are the basic criteria for museum acquisitions. Pieces from Sweden and the other Nordic countries are given priority, but even other countries are represented, especially those that have been significant for design development.

Prints and drawings
The collection of Prints and Drawings comprises about 500,000 items from late medieval times up to the year 1900. Central to the collections are in excess of 2,000 master drawings that Carl Gustaf Tessin acquired during his tour of duty as Sweden’s ambassador to France. Of particular importance are collections of works by Rembrandt, Watteau, Edouard Manet, Johan Tobias Sergel, Carl Larsson, Carl Fredrik Hill and Ernst Josephson.

National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Castles Collections
From the beginning the Royal Castles Collections consisted, as appears from the name, of the parts of the art collections of the royal pleasure-palaces which were owned by the State. Today the Royal Castles Collections at the Nationalmuseum administer the majority of the paintings, drawings, engravings, and sculptures existing in five of the royal pleasure-palaces, i.e. Gripsholm, Drottningholm, Stromsholm, Rosersberg and Ulriksdal.The largest collection is the National Portrait Gallery founded in 1822 at the Gripsholm Castle which today includes 4,000 works of art. Gradually, the area of responsibility of the Royal Castles Collections has been extended and now comprises 18 palaces, manors and other units.

The Gustavsberg Porcelain Collection
The Gustavsberg Porcelain Collection consists of approximately 35,000 objects, manufactured at the Gustavsberg Porcelain Factory from the 1830s up until the factory’s closing in 1994.

The current building, built between 1844 and 1866, was inspired by North Italian Renaissance architecture. It is the design of the German architect Friedrich August Stüler, who also designed the Neues Museum in Berlin. The relatively closed exterior, save for the central entrance, gives no hint of the spacious interior dominated by the huge flight of stairs leading up to the topmost galleries. The museum was enlarged in 1961 to accommodate the museum workshops.