Turning 50 in the Nordic Museum, Stockholm

Sometimes it seems that museums are trying to compete with something, and I’m never sure what. The Nordic Museum in Stockholm is not one of these. It is spacious, easy, quirky – perhaps even cheeky.

Entrance hall of the Nordic Museum, StockholmIn the midst of an exhibit of historical jewellery are stacked leather bracelets with silver studs. Caption: punk bracelets. That’s pretty damn awesome.

Sandra and I start from the top, which is a nice change – why have I always started from the bottom before this? We meander through a beautiful and sobering exhibit about the Sami people and their history in Sweden. We walk through an exhibit covering different Swedish table settings and traditions through the ages. I feel pleased that nobody reuses swan carcasses as table dressing any longer.

We make our way through a path of dummies dressed in fashions of years passed. The punks were back here – a fluro-haired, leather-clad punk stood facing a man and woman in seventeenth century evening wear.

Doll house exhibit at the Nordic MuseumI had a peek at an exhibit of old doll houses and sate my desire for miniature things. I didn’t see any little lamps to rival Katherine Mansfield’s in ‘The Doll’s House’.

All the exhibits are ranged around the grand central hall which is open all the way to the ceiling four floors up. Back and forth we passed around the stone columns until we reach the ground floor. As we pass around a corner of the museum we find some wooden-shuttered windows open onto little terraces, looking out onto the beautiful streets of Stockholm. For a moment I imagine standing at this window in another time, as another person.

The museum farewells us with an exhibition about hair – head and body – and a recreation of a little Swedish 50s apartment. We walk through the sitting room, single bedroom and kitchen. We open cupboards and peer into bookshelves. Sandra puts on the lady’s hat hanging by the door, but we leave the coats alone.

Sandra and I agree that we wouldn’t mind some 50s furniture in our homes. I rhapsodised over the spice rack in the kitchen which was a little shelf attached under the cupboards above the sink and had spaces for different sized glass containers with little handles on the ends which slid out towards you. I can sort of imagine myself in the 50s – causing trouble as usual.

View from window in the Nordic Museum