Sweden is a patriotic and proud country, as is evident by the sheer amount of museums in Stockholm dedicated entirely to the conservation and exhibition of the country’s history, culture and folklore.
The variety and quality of Stockholm’s museums are simply outstanding and, whilst we know the city’s natural attractions tend to kidnap visitors for days on end, especially in summer, do make a point to visit at least one national museum while you’re in town and you won’t be disappointed. Educational and enticing, Stockholm’s best museums are recognized as the best in Scandinavia for their variety and showcasing qualities.
Grab a Stockholm Card as soon as you arrive in town and you’ll find museum hopping a much more affordable affair.
The Vasa Museum
The city’s most visited museum was built exclusively to house the most complete Viking shipwreck ever recovered. If you thought the Titanic had a tragic tale to tell, you’d re bound to suffer a little heartache when you learn that the Vasa managed to sink just a couple of minutes after setting off in 1698.
Found on the leafy island of Djurgarden, the 69-metre long Vasa was originally built as a warship and, even thought it sort of flopped in that regard, it does make for an enthralling museum; possibly the very best in Stockholm.
The ship is an absolutely extraordinary sight, especially due to the fact that it has been restored in such a comprehensive way. Almost all of the wood is original, which is remarkable considering the Vasa spent almost two centuries half underwater. The resurrection and restoration works are extensively documented at the museum and displays include old artefacts, personal crew object and the crew themselves…albeit in skeleton form!
The Vasa was stored in a cordoned off shipyard for over two decades, before the Swedish Maritime Association decided to quite literally build a museum around it and open it to the public.
Never could they have imagined that this fantastic and authentic Viking-era artefact could attract so much attention. Nowadays, this is the most visited museum in Scandinavia, pulling over one million visitors a year. It matters not if you’re a Viking or sailing aficionado; the Vasa is one of those striking ‘landmarks’ which manages to WOW every single visitor bar none.
Stockholm city council underwent an extensive archaeological project during the 1970s, when it endeavoured to dig, collect and restore as much of the city of old as it could. The brilliant Medieval Museum showcases recovered parts of the old city wall, as well as relics and artefacts dating between the 13th and 16th century and a full replica of the old city centre in all its authenticity. There are almost a thousand objects on display, gathered from every corner of Stockholm. The Museum does a great job in putting all the displays in context, yet you’ll benefit greatly by joining an English speaking tour, which is included in the entry price.
This Museum is quite small and compact, so it may be worth your while to join a quick tour and then return to the items you’d like to see in greater detail.
The Medieval Museum also organizes informative and educational walks around Gamla Stan; perfect for those interested in gaining an even deeper insight into what life was like in this now super-modern city all those centuries ago.
Everything you ever wanted to know about the famed Nobel Prize, its founder, laureates and all its intricate history, you’ll find at this eponymous museum in Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s Old City Centre.
As with the Medieval Museum, the Nobel also offers free guided English-tours which are, as always, highly recommended if you are short on time. Science lovers will particularly find this small-ish museum very, very interesting, as it details much of what was found, discovered and invented in the field. This would have to be one of the most educational museums in the world, not just Stockholm, as is evident by the sometimes indecent amount of school groups you’ll likely have to share the teeny spaces with. The interactive rooms are major crowd-pullers so head to those first if there are no groups when you first arrive.
A living and breathing real-life museum showcasing the agricultural side of ancient Sweden, the Skansen Open Air Museum is one of the few places in the world where you can literally walk through the last five centuries of a country’s history.
Skansen is an incredible reconstruction of old villages, farms and factories which used to exist all over Sweden. You’ll get to interact with old blacksmiths in period costumes, as well as weavers, framers and bakers and, as much as it may be a children’s haven, it is just as interesting and captivating for adults.
Sweden’s National Gallery boasts an exquisite collection of artworks dating from medieval times right up to the 19th century. Home to one of the most comprehensive Viking art collections in the world, this museum is as opulent in its content as it is in its minimalistic yet huge exterior. Carl Larsson’s masterpieces are no doubt the most revered here, but the sheer number of master paintings by some of the world’s most respected master painters, makes this a real world-class contender for most visitors.
Sweden’s second natural history museum (the other is in Gothenberg) may not knock your socks off if you’ve happened to have been to several around the world BUT its main drawcard for tourists is the comprehensive and excellent displays of native Scandinavian wildlife, something you most definitely will not find anywhere else. The Polar collections are also world-class, as is the in-house observatory, which actually doubles as a theatre screen! Buy a combined museum & movie ticket and don’t miss your chance to watch a film in Sweden’s largest observatory.
New and exciting collections are always on show and rotate regularly, with an emphasis placed on the evolution of man. Truly cool stuff!
The Vasa via Wiki
Skanses via Wiki
National Museum of Fine Arts via Wiki