A Swedish affair of art and politics

After endless debates, extensive calculations, several headaches and occasional hysterical attacks, Swedish authorities finally decided to abolish entry fees for most of the country museums. Worth noticing is the fact that this is not the first time for Swedish museums to become free for visitors. The fees were reinstated by the government in 2006, due to economic (surprise) reasons. Currently (that is, from February 2016), the state-owned museums receive a governmental funding to cover the costs of the entry fees, and the whole idea behind that is to allow people from variety of backgrounds to have an access to, so-called, high art. Personally speaking, I feel that some of the museums are a bit pricey compared to what they have to offer to potential guests, so that most of the people prefer to have a burger.

Saying that, these museums (among many others) are now free from entry fees: Armémuseum, Etnografiska Museet, Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet, Historiska museet, Nationalmuseum, Moderna museet. Other popular ones, mostly private, such as Vasa, Nobel or ABBA museums, did not remove their fees.

Swedish museums are quite specific. I had a chance to visit plenty of them, and my main tip for the people would be: don’t expect to see anything like the Louvre. Museums in Stockholm are not so colossal and you won’t probably find them in the rankings of Top 10 World Museums. But they are not worse. They are different, sometimes strange, sometimes eccentric. Many of them tell the stories about Swedish culture, history, wildlife and nautre. But there’s also another interesting aspect the Swedish art. Namely, Swedes adore modern art and design, especially simple and futuristic forms (and the Oscar for the most popular world furniture brand goes to…). This has its reflection in the aesthetics of the country museums. Because what would you expect to see next to the DNA model and the Nobel Diploma for Schroedinger?

Nobel creations

Yes, Nobel Creations. I must admit that such blending of styles was a bit surprising at first. I remember walking from one room to another, hoping to see the notes and diaries of the Nobel prize winners. And this remarkable disappointment when, in Nobel Museum, I was surrounded by clothes that could be hardly ever worn by a living person. However, there is some thinking that underlies those exhibitions. Some museums in Stockholm collaborate with the universities and allow their students to present their projects as the part of the regular exposition. Thus, apart from having a cultural role, museums in Stockholm function as a workshop, where the works of students and young artists first meet the critical eyes of a judgemental visitor.

The Nobel Museum is not an exception. What, generally speaking, would you expect to see in the Army Museum? Possibly some weapons. In turn, in Stockholm’s Armémuseum you can spot this:

In this case it may be quite tricky to deduce what the exhibition in the right picture has in common with the army. But it is still the same concept: promotion of local artists willing to exhibit themselves to the criticism. Again, we see, to the certain extent, some irrational blends of the contemporary design with the actual theme of a museum. You will need some time to adjust to that. However, you will be also able to discover how plastic is the art and how modern and classical art might be combined to propagate history in the form edible to the public.

And, in order to discover that yourself, don’t hesitate to visit many of the Swedish museums, which are now free and open for all the guests.


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