There are a wealth of museums in the Nordic capitals offering much of interest. I have picked a few personal favourites below-please note I know Copenhagen and particularly Stockholm much better than I do Oslo and Helsinki, so my choices there are as a result of more thorough research! If you are interested in current Nordic exhibitions, please look at the exhibition section under categories.
- Thielska galleriet, Djurgården. This is my favourite museum in Sweden- a late Art Nouveau gem set in the beautiful park of Djurgården, formally the King’s hunting grounds. The collection, assembled by a banker in the late nineteenth century, includes some fabulous Edvard Munchs plus much other Scandinavian art of the period. The garden includes sculpture by Rodin and the Norwegian sculptor, Gustav Vigeland.
- Historiska Museum, Narvavägen. This museum is great for learning about Scandinavian history from pre-historic times to the Middle Ages. The Gold Room contains many fascinating and exquisite pieces from the Viking era. The museum is well laid out in a clear pedagogical fashion.
- Junibacken, Djurgården. This one is for kids but great fun for adults too. I loved to read Astrid Lindgren’s books as a child and this is ‘Astrid Lindgren land’. Saga tåget (the fairytale train) takes you on a fabulous journey through Lindgren’s stories from Pippi Longstocking to The brothers Lionheart. Well worth a visit.
- Fotografiska Museum, Stadsgården. This is Stockholm’s Contemporary Photography Museum, opened in 2010 in an early twentieth century red brick Custom’s House by the docks. The space is perfect for photography and the exhibitions are of top quality- varied and engaging. When you want a break from art, there is also a great restaurant with stunning views.
- The Hirschsprung Collection, Stockholmsgade. In an elegant parkland setting, this gorgeous collection holds magnificent Danish Golden Age paintings and beautiful works by the Skagen group of painters who captured the unique light of northern Scandinavia. The museum holds the largest collection worldwide of Skagen artist, P.S. Krøyer’s work.
- Ny Carlsborg Glyptotek, Dantes Plads. This museum is built around the personal collection of Carl Jacobsen, the son of the founder of Carlsberg Breweries. There is some worldclass sculpture, and French Impressionist and Post Impressionist art plus an excellent antiquities collection. The museum is housed in an elegant Victorian building with a vast mosaic floored conservatory/winter garden with a great café for coffee and cake. The contemporary extension is beautifully done.
- Design Museum Danmark, Bredgade. This is a small museum, housed in a beautiful eighteenth century rococo building, entirely devoted to Danish and international design. Scandinavia is respected worldwide for its great modern design and here its history is engagingly related. For anyone interested in graphic design, furniture, textiles and fashion this is a must.
- The David Collection. Located in an elegant early nineteenth century townhouse where the museums founder, Christian Ludvig David lived, the collection concentrates on Danish painting and decorative arts and European porcelain. The museum has a room devoted to the work of well-known Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershoi . The Islamic Collection is world class and the largest in Scandinavia.
Just outside of Copenhagen
- Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Located north of Copenhagen, this museum is a must for anyone interested in modern and contemporary art. Aside from the art collection which includes works by Picasso, Giacometti, Yves Klein and Baselitz, the setting in a sculpture park overlooking the sea, is just spectacular- a unique place and a great day trip.
- The Karen Blixen Museum. This museum, by the Øresund Sound, is an essential visit for any fan of multiple Oscar winning film, Out of Africa and indeed of Karen Blixen. The museum is Blixen’s former home and her grave is in the garden. The house contains many of her paintings and drawings together with some of the furniture she had in Africa.
- Ateneum. This centrally located museum is a great gallery for classical art and for displaying the work of Finnish artists, particularly Akseli Gallen Kallela, the great highly patriotic Finnish Symbolist artist of the late nineteenth century. The museum is strong on temporary exhibitions of Nordic artists; in 2014, it will be holding an exhibition on Tove Jansson, author of the Moomin trolls.
- The Mannerheim Museum. Baron Gustaf Mannerheim is Finland’s great war hero. Marshal of Finland, he led Finland against the Russians during World War II and became President of Finland in 1944. This intimate museum (Mannerheim’s former home) relates the Marshal’s fascinating life story. It is worth while taking a guided tour.
- The Akseli Gallen-Kallela Museum. This enchanting museum at Tarvaspää just outside of Helsinki, was the home and studio of Finnish artist, Akseli Gallen-Kallela. The museum is packed with Gallen-Kallela’s rich and varied oeuvre from painting to sculpture to photograhs. The house/castle, designed by the artist himself in the Art Nouveau style, is in a stunning location by the sea.
- The Munch Museum. Scandinavia’s most internationally known artist cannot go without a mention! This museum is dedicated to the art of Expressionist painter, Edvard Munch, and contains an extraordinary 28,000 of his artworks including the famous Scream and The Madonna. This year, the 150th anniversary of Munch’s birth, the museum holds a special exhibition of the artist’s work said to be the most comprehensive of his work ever.
- The Vigeland Museum. Devoted to the work of the expressive, prolific sculptor, Gustav Vigeland, the museum is south of the fascinating Frogner Park (well worth a visit for its meticulously designed Vigeland sculpture garden with over 200 highly engaging works in bronze, granite and wrought iron). The museum also holds cutting edge modern and contemporary art exhibitions.
- The Norwegian Folk Museum, This museum of cultural history includes a large Open Air Musem with buildings from different regions and periods evoking how Norwegians lived throughout the ages. Amongst them is the Gol Stave Church dating to 1200. The museum is informative and very evocative. In the summer there are outdoor activities everyday and it is a great place to take children.