Stockholm in cold, grey and wet weather may seem a disaster to the holiday maker, and a disappointment threatening to ruin the vacation. Of course, the usual remedy is the cheerful exhortation to go to a museum, but you may feel even more dismayed by that. Museums are dry, boring and dusty places full of exhibits you don’t want any information about – or aren’t they? Actually, in Stockholm you may find some of the most modern and interactive museums there are, and as for the boring ones you may have to learn how to pick the raisins out of the cake. So let’s see what is on offer!
First, for the family with children there are some really exceptional places to visit.
You’ll be able to spend quite some time at the Museum of Technology and Science (Tekniska museet, website: tekniskamuseet.se.), where the great hit is the Cino4, showing 3D-films with wind gusts, smells and moving seats. Films last for half an hour and take you down into a volcano or out into space, and it feels real enough to fascinate even the most blasé. 28 January 2011 the new exhibition “NASA – A Human adventure” will open its doors and promises to be a spectacular experience with space suits to try on, space ships to visit and pictures that take your breath away. And tons of facts of course, if you feel inclined to learn something. There is also a 19th century mine to go down into, a huge model railway, the “energy game” where you (or your kids) make choices about resources and consumption and of course the technical science lab where everything can be touched, experimented with and laughed at.
Then we have the Natural History Museum (Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet, website: nrm.se) where the great attraction is Cosmonova, a planetarium that whirls you out among galaxies and supernovas in the blink of an eye, or shows other films immersing you totally in a first class visual experience. Among the exhibitions are recreated environments from around the globe – walk among polar bears or get into the belly of a whale! Or visit the Neanderthals or the “Marvels of the Human Body” where you take a journey round 39 interactive stations. You can explore the electrical current in the brain, test your reliability as an eye-witness or challenge your senses in the Dark Room.
Finally, most children and adults love the Museum of Swedish History (Historiska museet, website: historiska.se). Here, the time traveler steps through the gates of the time machine in the exhibition “Prehistories” and lands in long gone times, where eight persons tell and enact the stories of their life and work. The gold room holds fairytale treasures, and for the history buff everything in Swedish history, from the Stone Age to the climate problems of today is on show.
But what about adults not interested in space or science or Viking weapons? Is there some culture to be found?
There certainly is. The National Museum holds canvases, drawings and etchings of every style and epoch – and since this enormous richness risks to lead to overstimulation and consequently to the boredom and stupor mentioned above, it is time to learn a museum visitor’s trick. It really is quite easy: choose beforehand what you want to see. There is no law forcing you to stare admiringly at every strange thing on the walls! There is an excellent website, nationalmuseum.se, where you can read about the collections and select your favorite epochs and art forms. Once on the spot, you ask for their location and sit down in front of what you like the best and just enjoy it – spending time with the 18th century Lady with the veil by Alexander Roslin, or with a gilded icon Madonna really is to be in very good company!
The Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities (Östasiatiska museet, website: ostasiatiska.
se) is also an option, where the same rule applies – otherwise the sheer amount of porcelain might make you quite dizzy. For the first time outside China, you can see part of the spectacular terracotta army from the Chinese emperor’s tomb in underground vaults echoing the original place of these clay soldiers. Or why not ask the museum personnel to roll out and show you some delicate Chinese paintings on rice paper? They cannot be kept open all the time, but there is a room full of scrolls that will let you fantasize peacefully about ragged mountains and Buddhist monks while the rain splashes down outside, and if someone asks you if you are a researcher, you just smile and tell them you are an artist…
Culture in the western world of course began with Classical Greece and Rome, and if the rain goes on you might take yourself to the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities (Medelhavsmuseet, website: medelhavsmuseet.se) to visit sculptures from Cyprus, Egyptian goddesses and rugs from the Middle East. In spring 2011 there will also be a really fun exhibition about how the brightly painted antique statues originally looked. Your ideas about a world of white marble will come tumbling down in a rainbow of blue, red, yellow and green, and children will love the blue-haired lions and brightly clad godesses!
Perhaps feeling you should learn more about Stockholm, the Museum of Medieval Stockholm (Medeltidsmuseet, website: medeltidsmuseet.stockholm.se) describes the emergence and medieval development of the town. The main exhibition is built up around some of the monuments which came to light during the archaeological excavations on the city island of Helgeandsholmen between 1978 and 1980, and each year there is at least one theme exhibition as well. 2011 is the year for “Sound Ways” where sound images of six medieval persons create a new understanding of life in medieval Stockholm.
All these museums have excellent museum shops – especially to be recommended are the shops of the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities, and of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, where you happily can spend some time. Also, cafés and restaurants in the museums solve the problem of finding somewhere to eat in the middle of your visit.
Now, you only have to find these places! Their websites for the most part have addresses and maps on display together with opening hours, and the best way to get there. If the rain is still pouring or if you cannot resist even more interesting facts, go to stockholmsmuseum.com where a great many of Stockholm’s museums are listed with contact information and a brief summary. Perhaps the Swedish Tobacco & Match Museum or the Swedish Royal Armoury might tempt you with a visit?