One of the first signs of spring, I guess, is The Spring Salon at Liljevalchs. I have written about this before, but to recap; Liljevalchs is an art venue in Stockholm run by the local government. Every year, in the beginning of the year, it hosts a salon where people can send artworks they have made. Should they be accepted they get be represented at the salon, where everything is for sale should be noted. So for a few weeks it’s a big gallery.
If art is a way to take the pulse on contemporary society, then what is the shape of things to come? The answer is: I don’t know. First of all I’m not sure that this years jury is interested in art at all. Secondly it felt like it was mostly the same kind of artworks at usual, maybe a few more with a religious motif, but that might also be my observational bias. Either there isn’t much happening in society, what ever is happening is doing so amongst people under the age of 18 (the youngest exhibitor at the Salon was 19 years old) or my eyes are tired and I am oblivious to the signs around me.
My faves included a few textile pieces (always; I have a weak spot for embroidery, appliqué and other methods of making art in textile), the works that incorporated pressed flowers (see above) and all the stuff that was in pair or made by books. None of those were trends as such, or the kind of thing to stand out. More like the kind of art I would like to own and have at home (which I guess is the point of the show?). The funniest thing was overhearing a woman telling her friend, in a very nonchalant tone of voice, that she has bough artworks from several salons but that she keeps misplacing it and now have no idea where those pieces are. I don’t know if I’m upset on behalf of the artists whose work isn’t cared for or if I’m slightly envious of that level of art ownership; to have so much of it that you can just misplace things and shrug your shoulders about it.
If the “mainstreamness” of the art is somewhat depressing the popularity of the show itself is uplifting. Even on a Monday afternoon, when the visit took place, it was crowded. So many people wanted to see it apparently. Yes, Liljevalchs has reopened after the renovation so maybe there is a bit of a novelty-factor but in general the salon is a well visited one. And most of the art work is sold which I think is a good thing.
I didn’t buy any art, I didn’t even buy the catalogue this year. Or a measly little postcard in the shop. The shop is still good though, it always has been in my opinion. The storage boxes and restrooms downstairs have improved with the renovation. The nice café next door isn’t open yet (their renovation isn’t finished)
More information about Liljevalchs can be found here.
Slowly but surely I’m making my way through the list of museums in Stockholm that have free admission. And so the time has come to the one most out of the beaten path, The museum of Natural history.
I must have visited once at least with school, that is highly probable, but I have no memories of it. Maybe I was sick that day? It’s not exactly the kind of thing I would go for, or so I thought, so it has remained unvisited.
However, now that I know of it I might just go again because I’m enthralled by the collections of minerals. I came in through the big entrance and sort of made my way through the exhibitions. A lot of taxidermy going on and a few skeletons. Some very pedagogical displays of how neanderthals lived, about life in the oceans and a space devoted to the effects of environmental degradation. I saw school classes going through them, taking notes and their professors pointing out important things.
Meanwhile I sort of wandered off unto the far most corner and there they were; the collections of minerals. Some of them come from the time of the museums foundation and were displayed in old-fashioned cabinets. Many others had been placed in a more modern contraption that you could pull out so see the chunks of rock and get a little info about from where they came and so forth. And it was one of the most amazing things, I wanted to smash and grab many of them; they would make excellent jewelry. The combinations of colours that mother nature has produced, and the shapes and textures is truly amazing. The collection is vast and I looked at all of them I think. Some are even fluorescent! None of them could easily be photographed as they are encased in glass. Still tried though.
I get inspiration from the most unusual places, there is no getting around that. These pieces were like sculptures of modern art. In fact I think I’ve seen something like it that was art. Furthermore the combination of colors and textures makes me think in terms of clothes. Most things do in the end to be honest, although I haven’t figured out how I will go from this to something I can dress in.
A straighter line can be drawn between this collection of shells on a pale jade green background. I want it as a print by the yard that I can make into a summer dress.
All in all I had an excellent time at the museum, and the shop is good too. Maybe not the first stop if you’re a tourist and have no interest in this sort of thing but If you are in the neighbourhood maybe? (You should visit the botanical gardens first, they are on the other side of the road).
More information about the museum can be found here.
I don’t understand why people talk so much about cinnamon buns, cardamom has so much more to offer. This is not a best of list, mainly because I haven’t tried them all. A worthy goal it would be but lactose and I don’t agree so it’s a treat for sometimes when I can deal with the consequences. In no particular order, here are seven suggestions for where to cardamom buns in Stockholm. You people need more Swedish “fika” in your lives.
1. In the home of someone who bakes, and does it well. No surprise that homebaked goods are some of the best. I admire people who make the effort.
2. Fabrique. This chain has places scattered all over Stockholm(and one in London I think) and it’s very popular. Rather pricey but good coffee and buns and their places are very Instagram-able. Worth a visit.
3. Snickarbacken 7. I’ve blogged about this café before (here) and there is nothing I can add to that, except great cardamom buns. I don’t think they make them on site but rather by from a nice bakery but I don’t care.
4. Bröd och Salt. This is my “go to” as almost all their pastries are lactose free. I can indulge without repercussions. They have a few places around town, the one at Sveavägen is nicest for a “sit down fika”.
5. Saturnus. Another place I have mentioned before (here). Their cardamom buns are expensive but also big enough for two to share. Legendary.
6. Valhalla bageriet. This is where I think many cafés actually order theirs from. It’s a hole in the wall on Valhallavägen, so of the beaten path, but if you are in the neighborhood do swing by and also make sure to stock up on their sourdough bread.
7. Albert’s & Jacks. At the corner of Humlegården this place is found, great for lunch but also”fika”. I rate them very highly.
I visited the royal armoury the other day. Going to a museum in the middle of summer might seem counter intuitive, especially since I actually live in this city and don’t have to scurry through the sights in a weekend. Nevertheless during the middle of the day when the temperature reaches maximum, and the sun is doing it’s worst damage, it’s a good idea to sneak into a place that’s cool and keeps your skin safe from burn better than any SPF. The royal armoury is in the dungeons underneath the royal castle so a very good refuge in those regards, and great stuff to keep you entertained.
I have been to this place a few times in my life as old clothes, their colours, cuts and elaborate detailing is a contained source of inspiration. The clothes on show here are from the royal families through centuries. Not all of it obviously but a lot and some of the best stuff; ermine coats, dresses with lace to die for and coronation outfits that are a joy to behold. I feel now that I need some velvet breeches, I really do. I am no royalist, quite the opposite, but this is our heritage and I’m glad it’s on display.
And the carts and carriages? The historical equivalents of white extra long limousines are lined up and frankly? Rappers still have some way to go to impress me with their SUV:s having seen these. Why isn’t Kanye rolling up in a gold chaise with dragons? He is missing a great opportunity here. Having horses might be a bit of an obstacle I guess but since we have hit peak oil, fuel prices while only go up anyways, at some point horses will seem like a bargain. And given how badly public transport is in Stockholm I might need to get some myself. But I digress.
Given that there is free admission, loads to see, a very nice shop( don’t underestimate the importance of a good museum shop; they are a great place to buy gifts because you can get stuff that isn’t necessarily available anywhere else) and located in the middle of the city, there is no excuse not to go. They don’t have a café but plenty of places around so you will not die from lack of coffee.
The royal armoury
With in the span of about a week I went to the Nautical museum and the Museum of Ethnography. The are neighbors, I should have just done them in one fell swop. Although I didn’t have the time on my first visit and I did get some exercise walking there. There are a few more museums in the vicinity although not part of the “free admission”-decree so I won’t bother ( the museum of Sports anyone? If it’s not free I’m not touching that place with a stick).
This is a classic excursion for schools, I remember having been more then once during my school years and a few times after that too! They’ve had some really cool exhibitions like one about Voodoo that I much enjoyed. They also have some wonderful objects like fabrics and bowls in their collections and nowadays they are put on displace like a cabinet of curiosities. I can ogle for hours, almost pressing my face to the glass to get a good look at them, and they are impossible to photograph well with a phone.
As I understand it, this is now part of the permanent exhibit. Another thing that has been there for years is the Japanese tea pavilion. I think such a thing would make more sense at the museum of South-East Asian art but here it is. And lovely at that, placed in amongst the greenery creating a calm surrounding for it. I’ve menat for the longest time to visit and take part in the tea ceremonies that they host there but not yet. One day I’ll manage (however I have been a part of a tea ceremony but that was at the British museum).
And there are bits and bobs of other things, some Native American headdresses, a kimono or two, that sort of thing. It feels like the museum is in transition; from an old narrative of “we just view things” to a greater realisation that what you see depends on who you are. It must be a tricky path bringing collection like these into the future. I’m not expressing novel ideas here, I guess a fair amount of literature in the discipline of sociology is devoted to it.
The current temporary exhibit is one about values and norms, focusing on the LGBT community. It is directed, I would imagine, to school children and as that it is probably very good. A reasonable and pedagogical introduction to a topic that can be difficult to talk about. I had a look at it and then went back to drooling over luxurious fabrics.
The restaurant and the shop are both good.
And that’s that. I can tick it of my little list and move on. Not all museum visits are life-changing and not all blog-post are good. Done is better then perfect.
Things mentioned in this post;
The museum of Ethnography
In my effort to visit all the museums in Stockholm that have free admission I took a detour one day and went to the Maritime Museum. I really have no business in that part of town and as someone who’s interests in the maritime is limited to sailor caps, I’m not sure what I was doing there.
I have been once before actually; they’ve actually had free admission for a long time (their own initiative) and there was an exhibit about “Sailors and sex” that I went to. A very good exhibit actually about how human relations are onboard a ship, about prostitution in ports and also what happens when the sexuality isn’t of the norm i.e. female sailors or the belonging to the LGBTQ community. I remember a nice arty movie by British director Peter Greenaway. No such luck this time.
The temporary exhibit is about how people like to get portraits of their ships. #shipfie if you like. It did nothing for me. Taking a tour of the permanent collection is fun though; they used to make actual models of all the ships in the navy, some of them quite big and there is the story(and a part of a replica) of an 18th century yacht that belonged to the king.
In short; the best parts are the bistro and the shop in my opinion.
Things mentioned in this post;
The Maritime Museum
As much as I consider myself well acquainted with my hometown, running around at galleries and what not, there are gems still to be discovered. One of them was the Nobel library.
I had come across it before; as I often read outside mainstream tastes I do the oddest searches and every now and again something that I want to read is only available at a few places in Sweden, and the only place in Stockholm being the Nobel library. In those cases I have often opted to buy the book(this happened a few times when I was working myself through that long(long) list of mine).
This time that wasn’t an option, the book in question is out of print and very few copies are available, so it was time to make a visit.
The Nobel library is found in Old town, just around the corner from the Nobel Museum(which isn’t all that interesting to be honest) and it’s also “the home” of the Swedish academy; the people who decide who gets the Nobel prize in literature. They have their meetings in the same building and the library was created primarily for their use. There is a clause in the agreement you sign to get a library card that if a member of the academy wants the book you have borrowed you must return it in advance.
They have a lot of books , not that you are allowed to browse (at least not if you are a mere mortal). There is an old fashioned process of filling in a card, handing it to the librarian and then they get it for you. Opening times are very limited(however they are open in the evening on Thursdays) but I plan to make use of them in future.
They do have the nicest reading room and a large selection of magazines that you are not allowed to take home; spending a little time there that isn’t a bad idea.
If nothing else it’s worth a little visit as this is one of the places where history and modern times sort of collide. You search on their computers for the info to fill in a paper card with your book request ; it’s archaic and very charming at the same time.
More info about the Nobel library can be found here.