The Nordic Museum is a museum located on Djurgården, an island in central Stockholm, Sweden, dedicated to the cultural history and ethnography of Sweden, preserve and bring to life the memory of life and work from 16th century to the present day. There is also an exhibition focusing on the only indigenous people in the Nordics – the Sami.
The Nordic Museum is Sweden’s largest cultural history museum. The collections contain over 1.5 million objects. Through furniture and interiors, fashion and jewellery, glass and porcelain, the Nordic Museum tells about how people in the Nordic countries lived, ate, dressed and celebrated their story of Nordic lifestyle and traditions.
The museum was founded by Artur Hazelius in 1873 who also founded the open-air museum Skansen. The exhibitions were originally shown in a room on Drottninggatan, before they moved into the current museum building in 1907. The building was built between 1889 and 1907 according to drawings by architect Isak Gustaf Clason, and is located within the Royal National City Park.
The founder of the museum was Artur Hazelius, who also founded Skansen. Had it not been for Artur Hazelius, the Nordic Museum would not have existed. The museum was his own idea and creation. “Know yourself” was Hazelius’ motto for the Nordic Museum and is still today the logo that the museum uses.
During a trip to Dalarna in the summer of 1872, he seemed to see that much of the older peasant culture was giving way to the industrial society of modern times. The impressions from the trip made him convinced that it was high time to start collecting objects and memories that future generations could tell about past times. From the very beginning, he collected objects, folklore and literature. He went to work already during the trip and bought, among other things, the item that would be number 1 in the museum’s collection, a woolen skirt from Stora Tuna.
On October 24, 1873, the “Scandinavian-Ethnographic Collection” opened at Drottninggatan 71 (in Davidson’s pavilions ) in Stockholm. The collections grew rapidly and Hazelius offered the Swedish state the collections as a gift, before he founded the foundation in 1880, which was named the “Nordic Museum”.
In order to guide the collection work and to facilitate the work of the suppliers, Hazelius published in 1873 a guide entitled: “Some instructions for the collection of folk costumes and household goods, etc.”. He was also in close correspondence with the suppliers. “Processor” was the term used by Artur Hazelius for the volunteers and unpaid helpers who helped him collect objects for the museum. The suppliers acted as agents for the museum in their home areas. Their efforts became invaluable to Hazelius and the museum. Thousands of objects were brought to the museum’s collections through their care.
As early as 1876, a building fund for the construction of a now museum building to replace the cramped premises on Drottninggatan had been established. According to a decision in 1882, a plot on Lejonslätten was leased by the king for an annual plot fee from 1884. The inauguration of the new museum building at Djurgården took place in June 1907. The museum had then been turned into a foundation and the name changed to the Nordic Museum.
The Nordic Museum and Skansen were one and the same institution until 1 July 1963, when Skansen became its own foundation. More than 30,000 objects at Skansen actually belong to the Nordic Museum but are placed as a perpetual deposit at Skansen.
Today, the Nordic Museum is Sweden’s largest cultural history museum. The collection contains about 1.5 million objects. The museum also has a rich cultural-historical archive with, among other things, a photographic collection with approximately 6 million images. The museum’s library comprises approximately 3,800 shelf meters.
The museum building
The present building, the design of Isak Gustaf Clason, was completed in 1907 after a 19-year construction process. Originally, it was intended to be a national monument housing the material inheritance of the nation. It takes its style from Dutch-influenced Danish Renaissance architecture (i.e. buildings such as Frederiksborg Palace) rather than any specifically Swedish historical models. The core of the “cathedralesque” building is taken up by a huge main hall (126 meters long) passing through all the stories up to the roof and dominated by the enormous sculpture of King Gustav Vasa, the Swedish so called founder-king. For the construction, brick and granite was used for the walls, while concrete was used for the roof.
The Nordic Museum was founded in 1873 and is today Sweden’s largest cultural history museum. The collections reflect the country’s cultural history from the 16th century to the present. The collection of objects includes about 1.5 million objects. The museum has a rich cultural-historical archive with, among other things, a photographic collection with approximately 6 million images. The museum’s library comprises approximately 3,800 shelf meters.
For such a huge collection, the founders were very far-sighted and proposed to build a majestic building as the site of the museum. In 1883, an international architectural competition was announced for a new museum at Djurgården. Sixteen entries were received and the competition was won by the architect Wilhelm Manchot. But none of the proposals came to fruition, the museum’s management did not consider any of the proposals to be sufficiently Nordic in nature. Instead, the architect Magnus Isaeus was commissioned to prepare drawings for the museum.
After Isaeus’ death in 1890, the architect Isak Gustaf Clason (1856–1930) completed the assignment with Gustaf Améen as assistant. Clason’s proposal was approved by the museum’s board in 1891. His original drawings show a four-length castle with two inner courtyards and four corner towers. The proposal was never realized in its entirety. Only one of the lengths, the one that contained the large party hall, was erected. The reason was partly a lack of money, and partly that the museum’s plot boundary was changed in connection with the General Art and Industry Exhibition in 1897.
In 1888, construction work began on the new house and by the 1897 large art and industry exhibition at Djurgården, the northern part was completed. After another ten years of work, the entire museum building was inaugurated by the Crown Prince on June 8, 1907. The building was intended as a Nordic Renaissance castle and you can see in the design language that the architect Isak Gustaf Clason was inspired by northern European 17th century renaissance, such as Frederiksborg Castle in Denmark and Vadstena castles in Sweden. The building material in the facades is sandstone from Roslagen and limestone from Öland andGotland. The frame is made of brick and granite, while the floors in the galleries are in a currently modern concrete technique.
The building with its pinnacles and towers, spiers and high gables, has features of the Danish renaissance, such as the castles Kronborg and Fredriksborg in Denmark but is also inspired by Gripsholm and Vadstena castles in Sweden. The building frame is made of brick clad with sandstone from Roslagen, window surrounds and licenses are made of limestone taken from Öland and Gotland.
Around the large temple-like gate are sculptures and reliefs designed by the artist Carl Eldh. In the gable-shaped upper part of the gate, a female figure sits on a throne. She is a symbol for the museum but perhaps also for mother Svea. The Swedish people come to her with gifts. Over the gable, the ancient god Odin has taken the throne, surrounded by squirrels that here symbolize the diligent collectors, that is, the museum employees.
Inside the hall, you are greeted by a statue of Gustav Vasa in colossal format. The statue is made by Carl Milles, first in plaster for the inauguration in 1907 and finally in wood in 1925. It is sculpted in oak, and polychrome, painted in different colors, and gilded. On the pedestal are the words Warer Swedish, taken from a poem by Daniel Fallström.
The reliefs at the base of the columns surrounding the gate illustrate the basic industries of agriculture, mining, forestry and fishing. The female work is represented by an older woman spinning on a dragonfly and by a younger woman with a child in her arms. Under the reliefs Swede can read carved mottos written by August Strindberg. A motto is: Fairy tales I tell that heritage young people remember may.
It is an experience to walk through the star arch of the vestibule, in galleries, stairs and stairwells, on the Coronation Lattice and in the Great Hall. The building has magnificent dimensions but there are many small and interesting details, such as the sculpted, dormant bear in the balustrade in one of the stairs or the peasants carved in the capital on one of the pillars of the stairwell.
The museum’s large hall resembles the nave of a Gothic cathedral with high arches and pillars. The hall is 126.5 meters long and 24 meters high and is thus one of the largest non-church rooms in Sweden. The hall is the largest non-church room in Sweden after some sports arenas. The museum was originally planned to be much larger, with four lengths around a courtyard, but lack of money and time made the whole project significantly smaller. Even the decoration of the hall in vibrant colors after a proposal by Olle Hjortzberg never came to fruition.
The top gallery is supported by 68 columns of Kolmårdsmarmor. The building details that are not plastered are made of finely carved but unpolished Mölnbom marble. The hall’s floor rests on cross vaults beaten by bricks, the floor surface is covered with red and gray limestone. The symbols that are embedded in the floor of the hall are signs for different metals, soils and rocks. The large hall was originally intended primarily as a party hall. The museum’s founder Artur Hazelius (1833–1901) thought of the hall as a hall for large national parties and celebrations. The hall was called “Allmogehallen” in the drawings.
The museum has over 1.5 million objects in its collections, including buildings such as the Julita farm in Södermanland, Svindersvik in Nacka, Tyresö Palace in Tyresö, and the chaplain farm at Härkeberga near Enköping. The museum archive also houses an extensive collection of documents and approximately 6 million photographs dating from the 1840s until today. The museum research library contains 3,800 shelf meters of literature from the 16th century and onward.
In the Nordic Museum’s exhibitions, you can discover and explore lifestyles and traditions in the Nordic region through home decor, fashion and jewelery, glass, porcelain and other things that people surround themselves with for everyday life and for parties.
Arctic – While the ice is melting
The Nordic Museum’s large hall has given way to life and change in the Arctic. In the exhibition Arctic – while the ice melts, you meet the history and future of the ice – but above all the people who live in today’s Arctic through objects, photos, design, works of art, films and projections.
The exhibition, ceiling projections, interactive stations and Arctic taste experiences in the restaurant together create a holistic experience for both adults and children. The central part of the exhibition is designed as a large iceberg, with a deep rift between then and now, created in collaboration with the exhibition designers MUSEEA.
As a visitor, you walk into the iceberg and through the crack, where you get to meet stories and objects that weave together the present and the past, as well as science and mythology, into a poetic and multifaceted story about the ice history and future and everyday life of the people in the Arctic. In the middle of the pole star. Where the meridians radiate together and the time zones end. This is where the Arctic begins, home to four million people. For thousands of years, the people here have lived with the ice.
In the exhibition ten documentary films, you meet people from different parts of the Arctic: Qaanaaq in Greenland, Vatnajökull in Iceland, the river Näätämö in Finland, Svalbard in Norway and Abisko, Arjeplog, Laevas and Nautanen in Sweden. The exhibition also touches on the Arctic to the east and west: Clyde River in Canada and Jamal in Russia. Most of the films are produced by the Nordic Museum, filmed by Camilla Andersen, and created with the support of the Nordic Culture Fund. The films from Näätämö and Clyde River are externally produced, while the films from Jamal and Qaanaaq are produced in consultation with the Nordic Museum.
A complex system of projections opens the hall’s slightly more than 20 meters high vaults towards an Arctic world and sky. The projections are created by Jesper Wachtmeister and are mainly based on the Nordic Museum’s contemporary collections of photography and film. Sit down in our lounge area in the Great Hall and experience a changing world.
The exhibition rooms are built according to different themes. Here you will learn more about what the Arctic is, how climate change affects the area, about the Arctic resource landscape and how people lived, traveled and dressed in the Arctic. You will also learn more about the relationship between man and ice. What has it looked like throughout history – and what does it look like now – when the ice melts? At an interactive station in the Great Hall, you have the opportunity to make a climate promise to your future self.
Tablecloths tell about food, drink, customs and usage in connection with meals for five centuries, from the 16th century to around 1950. The exhibition opened as early as 1955 and is still very popular. Magnificent and elegant table settings are interspersed with the more frugal. The exhibition presents ten larger and smaller interiors with set tables from castle, manor and bourgeois environments. There are tables for breakfast, dinner and party, for confectionery, punch and brandy. In addition, a large table for a coffee party and a small one for tea are displayed.
The exhibition shows how tableware, drinkware and cutlery have changed and developed over time. In side stands there are lots of beautiful and interesting objects that belong to the history of the set table: cups, jugs and mugs, bottles, carrots, terrines, plates of different materials, sandwich fork, sardine fork, caviar spade, sugar tongs, toddy spoon and much more.
The exhibition shows set tables from the 16th century to 1950: large parties, coffee parties, tea parties and spirits tables. A cavalcade of interesting objects that show how tableware, drinkware and cutlery have changed and developed over time is also available to look at.
During the 16th century, Swedish tables were dominated by simple materials. They ate at wooden counters and drank from wooden, tin or earthenware vessels. The guests had their own knife, but it was also allowed to help with the fingers. A dinner table from the 16th century may look simple, but the light is deceptive. A fine dinner at this time had many dishes: soups, root vegetables, game, fish, poultry, pies, sausages, aged cheeses, fruits and sweets.
The 17th century table reflects the time of great power, wealth and abundance. The mangled tablecloth with biblical motifs, broken napkins and a proud swan in the middle of the table would impress the guests. The swan was both food and sight. A steak was hidden inside the spring screw. The bird was reused many times, they just put a new steak there. The meal was divided into different so-called dishes. The first dish consisted of soup, fish, meat, pie and cake. As a second course, similar dishes prepared with more expensive ingredients were served. Finally, a candy table was set up next to the dining table.
Around the turn of the century in 1900, people began to take an interest in the designers behind tableware, glassware and household utensils. Well-known costmen were engaged at the factories. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Art Nouveau style flourished. It was tightened up in the following decades to turn into functionalism in the 1930s – “funkis”. During the 1920s, special tools such as cheese grater and grape shears were launched. At the turn of the century, the coffee party had become an alternative to the dinner party. It gave the opportunity to socialize more informally. At a really nice coffee party, a birthday celebration or a funeral, wheat bread, sponge cake and cookies were served.
The exhibition tells both about traditions that recur every year and about those that belong to life. Showcases show details and history of the Midsummer celebrations, Christmas, Easter and the lobster plate as well as the baptism, confirmation, wedding and funeral.
Long before Swede put the Christmas tree in the cottage, tall twig spruces were placed in many places with only a spruce twig at the top on each side of the front door or in front of the yard. It was a sign that Christmas peace had entered but also a protection against dangerous powers.
The tradition of indoor spruce came from Germany and the first known dressed spruce in Sweden is from 1741 and was covered with apples, saffron pretzels and wax candles. From mansions, vicarages and schoolteachers’ residences, the Christmas tree spread to the countryside, to be common throughout the country at the end of the 19th century. At that time, many spruces were still so small that they could be placed on the table or hung from the ceiling.
In the past, it was much more common to celebrate name days than birthdays – you did not always know when you were born. First lady Märta Helena Reenstierna, who lived on Årsta farm near Stockholm, wrote her famous diaries from 1793 until 1839. In them she tells how her name days that fell in July were celebrated, including that one year her armchair was covered with flower garlands and silk ribbons.
Today in Sweden can choose how Swede want to celebrate that a child has been born. One hundred years ago, there was hardly any choice – then a Christian baptism was performed. The unbaptized child was considered completely unprotected and could be exposed to both the work of the devil and the trolls. Through baptism the child came under the protection of God. Unbaptized children were considered Gentiles, and it was not until baptism that they became Christians. The baptismal suit was often provided with glittering things and symbols to protect the banner against “evil forces” during the journey to the church.
Today’s Easter celebration begins with Maundy Thursday, which according to folklore is the day when the witches fly to Blåkulla to spend time with the devil. In the past, people were careful to lock in tools such as shovels and brooms because the witches could use them for their journey. The exhibition tells how in the 17th century there was such a great fear of witchcraft that hundreds of women were executed after being accused of practicing witchcraft. Nowadays, the costumed Easter bunnies perform on Maundy Thursday or Easter Eve. The tradition of dressing up as an Easter bunny probably began in the early 19th century, when it was mostly young people and adults who dressed up. They imitated the real witches and invented different tricks. Today’s little Easter bunnies are harmless and are content to ask for sweets.
Folk art collection
In the folk art collection can see color and shape from both the old peasant society and the present. Let yourself be inspired by the art that people in the country created for people in the country. In a walk through six rooms, Swedish history is illustrated in color, shape, pattern and material. The festivals of life, the toil of everyday life and the joy of creation are embodied in seal arches, ceramics, textiles, forged candlesticks, boxes, courtship gifts and much more. The objects originate from Överkalix in the north to Skåne in the south. The exhibition shows 500 objects, real things that have been used and had a function for a time not far away.
The exhibition tells about the driving forces and sources of inspiration behind folk art: the dimensions and shapes of the human body, nature, the church room and Bible stories, noble weapons and royal monograms. Here are presented some of the parts of the traditional folk art that the exhibition contains. The desire to adorn oneself and to decorate one’s immediate surroundings is ancient, universal and global. The folk art of the peasant society was created by people in the countryside. They knew their customers and were themselves known as skilled craftsmen and craftsmen, even though they lacked formal training.
Folk art can look in many different ways, but there is a lot that is repeated in all countries, times and materials. For example, the desire to decorate the entire surface, the stylization of nature’s motifs, the recycling of materials and the symbolic message mixed with the decor. No stage in life has produced as much folk art as the time from the first flirtation to courtship and marriage. A heart on a beautiful rope holder as a gift could say more than a thousand words.
The folk painters had no formal education and had never drawn a sketch based on a nude model. Yet man is common in folk art. Adam and Eve is one of the few motifs where people are depicted naked. They are found on southern Swedish furniture, on Scanian cushions and in wood carving. The image of man has been adapted to materials and technology. But also after the surface that was to be decorated, like the shape of a spoon shaft from Härjedalen.
In the objects, people have often seen their own image and categorized some objects as female or male in shape. What has been seen as female and male forms, respectively, depends on the current perception of what characterizes the two sexes. In fact, the form is governed by practical reasons and often follows fashion. For example, the curvature of the floor clock gave way to the swinging pendulum and at the same time suited the design language of the Rococo.
The peasants who created folk art found their inspiration in the church where they came in contact with the professional painters ‘way of painting and the carpenters’ way of carving. The church was the pride of the parish, perhaps the only public space, with decoration available to all. The interior conveyed many ideas for new forms. In the southern Swedish home paintings, the baby Jesus does not lie in a manger but in a cradle, like the children of the Scanian farmers themselves. The painters were inspired by printed images, and the motifs were mixed with details from their own home environment. The bonadas were only picked until Christmas and for that reason they tell about the events surrounding the birth of Jesus.
The Folkhem apartment is a home environment from the late 1940s that was built up inside the museum. The apartment consists of two rooms and a kitchen and is typical of what a newly built HSB apartment could look like at the time. The fictional Johansson family lives in the apartment. The floor plan for the apartment is taken from an HSB house in Katrineholm which was built in 1947. But the apartment could just as easily have been located elsewhere in Sweden. It is as modern as a family could wish for in the middle of the 20th century. The family in the apartment has not really existed. Furniture, clothes and utensils have been collected from different places to show what it could look like.
The practical and built-in linen closet in the hall is filled with tablecloths, sheets and other household textiles. In the former home, storage of clothes and household items was a major problem. In the new apartment there are several storage spaces with clear functions: linen closet, cleaning cabinet and wardrobe.
The bathroom with toilet, bath and hot water has given the family a real standard increase. So nice not to have to run to the dasset in the yard to fulfill their needs. Remember to avoid heating water for bathing, or for rinsing up small washes. Sometimes the youngest cousins come to visit, so it is good to keep the potty chair for a while longer.
The kitchen is the center of the home. Here the family gathers for homework, letter writing and simple handicrafts. The practical kitchen facilitates Hilda’s work with cooking, preserving and baking. The family buys most of what they need from the cooperative and collects receipts for the annual refund. The furniture in the kitchen comes from the old home. In order for Gun-Britt to have space for herself, she sleeps on the kitchen sofa. When Siv comes home during the summer holidays, she shares a bed with her big sister.
The family has an apartment with two rooms, they finally have the opportunity to keep one a little nicer. They have paid for a new sofa group and a dining room furniture with a sideboard. They have bought the furniture in installments. Hilda and Ivar hope that they will last a lifetime. They are careful with the interior and Arne is not allowed to play in the room. The radio is an important source of information but also of pleasure. On weekends and on weekday evenings, the family sits on the couch to listen to the news or some other exciting program. ‘
The family has brought the pull-out beds from the old home. Arne’s and Hilda’s beds are always made, but Ivar’s pull-out bed armchair folds up every morning to save space. In the bedroom is the new electric sewing machine. Hilda sews and changes most of the family’s clothes. Now that Arne is older, she also hopes to be able to take on simpler sewing assignments. In this way, the sewing machine will pay off.
In the exhibition Jewelery, there is the simple and the most exclusive, from the 16th century until today. Jewelry that carries a story about the people who wore them, and about the time they lived in. Every era and every culture shapes its jewelry, always with a connection to the fashion that applies. Through the Timeline, with the help of 23 pieces of jewelery, you can follow the style development of jewelery from the 16th century onwards.
Jewelry is and has always been important for identity and status, and has been used for many different reasons. As flair and fashion, but also as economic status and that you are part of a certain social context. Jewelry has also been used at life’s celebrations, as a memory or as a good luck charm and protection.
Among the exhibition’s selected gold grains are some of the most exciting objects in the museum’s jewelery collection. For example, the so-called Banér jewelry from the 17th century, Gustav III’s revolution rings and a ring with the so far only known portrait of Årstafrun.
The exhibition’s 1000 pieces of jewelery are divided into different sections. The biggest is about Fashion, Status and Identity. A large number of necklaces, bracelets, pendants, brooches, earrings, rings and trimmings are shown here. In all cultures, people have adorned their bodies. Jewelry follows fashion and trends, but also tells a story about the people who wore them. Jewelry can also show economic status and social context – that was the case before and that is the case today. The precious and rare have often been shaped into jewelry, but pearls, precious stones and metals have over time been joined by new materials.
Jewelry carries promises and memories in connection with various events in life. They are often symbols or signs that the outside world can mean. Many jewelery is associated with weddings, some with mourning. In the section Joy and sorrow, rings are shown as a symbol of fidelity, bridal crowns and mourning and memorial jewelery.
Hair means a lot to the look. The fashion of different times is very much about the hairstyle. Jewelry for the hair – such as decorative combs and hairpins – has both decorated and kept the hair in place. Today there is a wide range of hair ornaments, but jewelry of hair is more rare. They used to be common, especially in the middle of the 19th century. Many have also worn jewelry with hair inside. Particularly significant small curls and braids have been hidden in pendants, rings, brooches and bracelets.
The Magic and Symbolism section shows some jewelery that is considered to give the wearer happiness or protect him from diseases, accidents and evil forces.
The practical and necessary thing – to hold clothes together, fasten and drape – has also meant an opportunity to decorate oneself in well-exposed places, such as the chest, at the waist, at the edge of the trousers or on the shoes. The decorative has been more or less important. Brooches, and in some places eyelets, became over time jewelry completely without practical function.
The section Guldkorn shows some jewelery associated with dramatic events and famous people. Among other things, the pendant that Gustav Banér left as a farewell gift just before he was beheaded in Linköping’s massacre in 1600, rings that Gustav III distributed as PR material after the coup in 1772, and the ring with the first known portrait of the famous Årstafrun are shown.
British looked into the Nordics
The Nordic region is part of a globalized world. During centuries of trade contacts, the Nordic countries have been influenced by surrounding countries such as France, Germany, Great Britain and later the United States. This exhibition is about Nordic fashion and Nordic lifestyle with influences from Great Britain. A story that stretches from the Middle Ages to the present day through fabrics, patterns, clothes and phenomena that have been shaped into a part of everyday life in the Nordic countries.
Cardigan, jumper and trench coat. Gunpowder and Doc Marten boots. Pajamas and a cup of tea, beer after the football match, tennis on Tuesdays and forest walks in a rain jacket and rubber boots. Parts of everyday life so common that Swede may not think about where they come from? It’s British – in Nordic!
London has been a shopping city for a long time. The Nordic countries, and especially Sweden, have had close trade contact with Great Britain since at least the Middle Ages. Then luxurious embroideries were imported to the Nordic countries and during the 18th century, well-to-do farmers demanded English wool for their folk costumes. Demand for British designs and materials has only continued. Gunpowder, paisley patterned, manchester, tweed and innovations such as water-repellent fabric have been picked up in fashion for Nordic weather. The choice of clothing of the British royal family has also influenced and inspired Nordic fashion throughout history.
During the 1960s, the British changed the way they shop with trendy small boutiques that sold fast and young fashion from, for example, Mary Quant. It was something completely new for Nordic consumers – unlike, for example, France, the UK produced both tailor-made status-laden fashion and cheaper everyday garments for everyone.
All this has made the influence of Great Britain on Nordic culture clearly visible in everyday life in several ways – in clothes Swede see every day and spread across the social classes. In names Swede are used to such as trench coats, cardigans, pajamas and jumpers, and in British phenomena that have become part of everyday life, such as sports and outdoor activities.
Football, tennis, horse riding, golf and hunting and its dress codes Swede have taken with us from the UK and into the dress and lifestyle. Golf trousers were worn by many boys and men in the Nordic countries during the 1930s and 40s, mostly off the golf course. Tennis shirts and jodhpur-like boots are often worn even without the tennis racket and riding helmet.
The Nordic man’s clothing style has much of its origins in the English well – tailored gentleman. The British style was so popular that even some Swedish tailors included “English” in their company names, such as the English men’s tailoring at NK in Stockholm and the Swedish-English Herrkonfektionsfabriken in Skåne. Since the second half of the 20th century, the clothing and lifestyle of teenagers and young people has been strongly influenced by the British music scene and by subcultures such as punk.
The exhibition is based on the Nordic Museum’s costume and fashion collection and a few deposits. It will show a wide selection of garments and outfits. It houses luxury products such as embroidery and woolen fabrics, outdoor and sports styles, men’s suits, subcultures’ clothes and ordinary everyday clothes such as jumpers and cardigans.
Contemporary Nordic fashion designers who are inspired by British styles and fabrics are included. Well-known British brands in fashion that have influenced and whose clothes are worn by people in the Nordic countries are also represented, such as Mary Quant, Fred Perry, Mulberry and Burberry. The oldest object in the exhibition is from the 1340s and the youngest comes from an autumn and winter collection for 2018.
Sápmi is an exhibition about identity, history and future, about rights and injustices, about cultural encounters and cultural clashes, about the image of oneself and the image of the other. The Nordic Museum’s collection of Sami objects comprises just over 8440 objects. The first Sami object to be introduced in the museum’s collections was a South Sami pewter embroidered women’s belt. It was donated to the museum during its first year of operation in 1872. A bag made in 2007 by the Sami artisan and artist Anna-Stina Svakko is one of the latest acquisitions.
Just over 40% of the Sami objects were acquired before 1900, about 45% during the period 1900–1950. About 15% are acquired after 1950. The most extensive object groups are household goods, clothing and personal equipment. Information about and photographs of large parts of the Nordic Museum’s Sami object collection are available via the Digital Museum. Nearly 200 objects are exhibited in the exhibition Sápmi – about being Sami in Sweden, which opened in 2007.
The Nordic Museum’s archives contain extensive material depicting Sami history. Among other things, records and photographs from the museum’s documentation and surveys, as well as answers to the museum’s questionnaires. The archive also contains Sami original material such as the Sami author Johan Turi’s notebooks.
Sápmi, the land of the Sami, existed before the borders of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia ended up on the map. This makes the Sami one of the world’s indigenous peoples. It also makes them a people divided into four countries.
Pop up: Jenny Lind – superstar
Jenny Lind (1820–1887) was one of the world’s most celebrated and beloved singers who became a cultural and media phenomenon. The audience of that time testified to a divine voice, intense acting and a very special charisma. Jenny Lind’s life story is a Cinderella story. She was born poor, unwanted and out of wedlock in Stockholm on October 6, 1820. Placed in a foster family, Jenny was discovered as an eight-year-old and her debut at the Royal Opera nine years later was a success. The audience of that time testified to a divine voice, intense acting and a very special charisma.
Jenny Lind broke through at a time when the focus increasingly revolved around the individual, which meant that her star status grew to enormous proportions. The groundbreaking marketing of Lind’s “personal image” created audience hysteria. The phenomenon of Jennyism was conveyed in the press and through countless products: Jenny Lind gloves and hats, hairstyles, shawls and theaters, chairs, pianos, cigars, even songs were named after Jenny Lind. In the museum’s collection there are many objects that are said to have belonged to her, which shows how everyday things become magical when they may have been touched by a celebrity.
In the exhibition, you will see, among other things, a silk dress and examples of Jenny Lind’s paper doll with accompanying costumes from various main roles.
The Nordic Museum’s fashion pop-up is a series of temporary exhibitions that show clothes from the museum’s collections in two of the Great Hall’s vaults. The objects reflect the breadth of the collection and comment on both current themes and historical perspectives – here you can see clothes worn several hundred years ago next to garments from contemporary Nordic designers.
For the past two years, the pop-up has shown contemporary designs by Martin Bergström, Gold Button-Winning Fashion and a party dress worn at the grand celebration of Expedition Vegas’ return in April 1880. The latest was linked to the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage and showed objects and costumes that reflect women’s struggles for freedom and independence, such as “The Ultimate Tie Blouse” designed by Sara Danius and Camilla Thulin, together with a reform costume from 1886 designed by Hanna Winge.
The Nordic Museum has approximately 1.5 million objects in its collections, of which a selection is displayed in the museum’s exhibitions with traditions, fashion, set tables, folk art, furnished rooms and Swedish housing. The collection also includes two rare organs, an organ positive from Medåker’s church, Västmanland from the 17th century and an organ positive from Sabbatsberg’s old age home, Stockholm from 1804. The museum shows new exhibitions every year and has about 200,000 visitors annually.
The Nordic Museum’s archives contain unique collections of records, autobiographies, diaries, farm archives, family archives, archives from individuals, companies and associations. The archive collection comprises just over 4,000 shelf meters of archives. This also includes Sweden’s largest cultural-historical photo collection with approximately 6 million images, the oldest from 1844, the youngest from today. The Nordic Museum’s folk memory collection contains folkloristic material on, for example, folk beliefs and folk medicine.
Since 1890, the Nordic Museum’s library has been a special scientific library for Swedish cultural history throughout recent times from the 16th century to the present day. The collections contain almost 4,000 shelves of books, magazines, catalogs, brochures and product catalogs.
The library acquires Swedish literature in the subject of Swedish cultural history after the year 1500 as well as international literature that enables comparisons between Swedish and foreign cultural history. The book collections reflect the museum’s work, exhibitions and research over the years. Books and magazines are often submitted through correspondence with museums and research institutes worldwide, a total of 158 institutions in 2011.
The collections are mostly accessed via the web catalog Saga, in the national library database Libris and via Google Scholar. The oldest material is searchable in the scanned card catalog. The library’s subject catalog, which lists a selection of titles and journal articles in the library’s collections under different subject areas, is also scanned.
Large groups of literature in the collections are ethnology, costume history, including a large collection of fashion journals, arts and crafts, cultural history, food and drink, memoirs, Swedish topography and architecture.
The library’s collections reflect the museum’s focus on activities at different times. At the time of the museum’s founding, the emerging humanities were dominated by comparative perspectives and in order for comparisons to be possible at all, an extensive library with e.g. printed catalogs from other collections. One of the museum’s first permanent employees was therefore the librarian PG Wistrandwhich in 1890 joined the library to the research libraries’ common Accession Catalog, which has today been developed into Libris. In PG Wistrand’s time, libraries were not primarily storage places for books, but equally scientific communication centers. Among other things, this was reflected in the building of extensive exchanges with libraries of other research institutions and this also became one of the first major tasks and by the end of the 1890s the library had established correspondence exchanges with 185 other institutions, primarily in Germany and the Nordic countries.
The library and archive were originally integrated parts of the museum building and could be reached via entrances on either side of Gustav Vasastatyn in the middle of the main hall, an ABM idea from a time before the term was invented. Today, the order re-emerges downstairs with the library under the northern part of the main hall and (since 2016) the archive in corresponding premises under the southern part of the main hall with a common reading room, lecture hall, wardrobes and toilets in the middle of the ground floor.
Finance and governance
The Nordic Museum Foundation has an annual state grant and is part of the circle of central museums. The state exercises supervision via the Nordic Museum’s board, whose members are appointed by the government, but have to comply with the foundation’s statutes and the foundation law. In principle, the foundation does not receive any government grants to manage the cultural-historical environments outside Stockholm.
In addition to the museum building and Villa Lusthusporten at Djurgården, the Nordic Museum also owns and manages several valuable facilities in different parts of the country, Svindersvik in Nacka, Tyresö Castle, Julita Farm in Södermanland and Härkeberga Kaplansgård outside Enköping.