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One of the art museum's refurbished halls (photo: Nationalmuseum)

Sweden’s biggest art museum reopens

After five years of renovation and modernisation, the art gallery has been transformed, its display space radically expanded.

The treasures of Sweden’s National Museum in central Stockholm are now open to the public once again following five years of renovations and modernisations.

Nationalmuseum, Sweden’s premier museum of fine arts and design, is also the country’s biggest art museum, dedicated to highlighting its enormous collection of classic art.

When the museum first opened back in 1866, it was one of the most modern in Europe, but after 150 years it was looking outdated and musty and was severely limited in the potential to display its world-class collection.

The $132,000 overhaul by Swedish architects Gert Wingårdh and Erik Wikerstål has transformed the exhibition spaces and created a new courtyard of sculptures, a restaurant and creative workshops.

The huge building, which stands on the waterfront overlooking the Royal Palace and the Old Town, was originally designed by German architect Friedrich August Stüler in a classic neo-Renaissance style. He also designed the Neues Museum in Berlin.

Lalique beside Renoir
The renovation project has transformed both the interior and the way the collection is presented, with the courtyards opened up and given glass roofs, the Daily Scandinavian writes.

The exhibition space has been dramatically increased giving room for three times more artefacts on display than before. More than 300 previously shuttered windows have been unblocked to give visitors views through the building itself and across the water to the city.

Encroaching office space, a conservation studio and more than 3,000 square metres of storage have all been removed, giving the museum the capacity to simultaneously display 5,200 works from its diverse collection from the 16th century to today.

That compares with 1,700 before the renovation. Yet it is still just 8% of the museum’s total collection.

There is also new logic to the displays, with visitors starting on the top floor and following a chronological timeline to the present day. Paintings are exhibited alongside the decorative arts. You can, for example, see Lalique glassware in the same room as Renoir and Monet.

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