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Sweden has an extremely well-developed museum tradition, with everything from industry to guitars to failures being given their due. That said, some are a bit better than others but remember, this list is just a taster. Your best bet is to really explore the country and all the museums on offer – you’ll be astounded as to just how comprehensive the Swedish museum scene really is.
Since opening in 1990, the Vasa has enjoyed a reputation as one of the most fascinating museums in the world. The ship was raised from the seabed just outside Stockholm harbour after laying there for hundreds of years. Incredibly it’s in remarkably good shape and the story behind how it was salvaged (and how it sank in the first place) is just one part of this enticing museum’s offering.
Abba the Museum is a fairly recent addition to Stockholm’s amazing museum scene, and since it first opened it’s attracted visitors from around the world – and for good reason. Not only can you ‘perform’ with Benny, Björn, Agnetha, and Anni-Frid, you can also record a song, make a video, marvel at the outrageous costumes and learn how the ultimate pop super group got their starts and how they eventually came together. An added bonus is the Swedish Music Hall of Fame, which is connected to the Abba Museum and takes you on an interactive journey through modern Swedish music.
There are photography museums and then there’s Stockholm’s Fotografiska, which is one of the world’s leading museums of contemporary photography. With four major exhibitions staged each year, along with 20 smaller ones, this is a museum that will challenge you, fill you with delight, and leave you slightly altered and probably grabbing for your camera. An absolute must for anyone in love with images.
This museum traces the development of Swedish military aviation, which is more considerable than you think when you realise that peaceful, neutral Sweden is one of the world’s biggest arms exporters. The museum is home to aircraft that ranges from the pioneering planes of the early 20th century to today’s JAS Gripen. There are also regular temporary exhibitions, and a number of events. This is living history, up close and personal.
While the imposing structure on Blasieholmen is being renovated, the Museum of Art has moved to temporary digs in Stockholm’s Kulturhuset. The museum is a treasure trove of rare paintings and sculptures, particularly European, as well as antique furniture, clocks, porcelain and other design elements. When the museum’s home reopens in 2018, it will be one of the best places in the country to explore centuries of art and design.
Sweden’s third largest art museum is home to an astounding international collection that ranges from the 15th century through to today. The emphasis at Gothenburg Museum of Art is on Nordic art, and the scope encompasses a broad range that also include children’s book illustrations, comics and Nordic contemporary art. What this museum does so well is present the work in unexpected ways, allowing visitors to see things from a new perceptive.
Åjtte is the world’s leading museum on Sami culture. Located in Jokkmokk, just north of the Arctic Circle, the museum focuses on the story of the Sami and all that entails: the land, the people, surviving in a harsh climate, and the contributions and way of life. A fascinating look into the indigenous people of the north, whose culture survives to this day.
One of Sweden’s largest university museums (it’s connected to Uppsala University), this is an amazing collection of everything from archeological objects and coins to art and scientific instruments. Gustavianum is particularly fascinating and its collections are also available for research and teaching, both in Sweden and around the globe. One of the more fascinating objects on display is the Augsburg Art Cabinet, which was presented to King Gustav II Adolf by the town of Augsburg in 1632. Described as a miniature cabinet of curiosities, the cabinet was given to Uppsala University in 1694 by King Karl XI and it stands in the same spot it was places all those many years ago.
Malmö Museer is southern Sweden’s largest museum and is home to many collections – from the Nordic region’s oldest surviving Renaissance castle to an aquarium to a submarine. Exhibitions focus on history, technology and life on the sea and the complex hosts more than ten temporary exhibitions each year. Extensive collections include – but are not limited to – textiles and photography. This is a day out and more.
Yes, a silly name for one of the best science museums around. Interactive, fun and full of learning that doesn’t feel like learning, Tom Tits is four floors of science presented in a way that you’ll wonder why you struggled so hard in biology. Every exhibit is not just hands on but fully immersive and while the kids love it the adults are the ones who are going to have the most fun, mainly because you can reconnect with your inner-child.