Stockholm’s Vasa Museum sails into top spot on most-visited list

Stockholm's Vasa Museum, showcasing a well-preserved centuries-old shipwreck, is now the country’s most visited museum.

Stockholm's Vasa Museum sails into top spot on most-visited list
The Vasa Museum in Stockholm. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Almost 1.5 million people visited the famous ship in 2017, pushing Stockholm’s living museum Skansen from the most-visited spot it had held for several years.

Compared to the previous year — which also welcomed a record-breaking number of guests — visitor numbers to the Vasa Museum increased by 154,084 in 2017, an 11 percent rise. That included a landmark day on July 25th, when the previous record for number of visits on a single day was smashed.

“It's amazing. I am particularly pleased that the proportion of children visiting us has increased. We have invested a lot in our younger visitors, for example by offering more family tours,” said the museum's director, Lisa Månsson.

On the other hand, 24,826 fewer people headed to Skansen, located just a stone’s throw away on the green island of Djurgarden.

Skansen wasn’t the only site to see a fall in visitor numbers: the Swedish Museum of Natural History, the third most visited in the country, saw a drop of 70,000 visitors while the Historical Museum welcomed 100,000 fewer people through its doors last year. That’s despite the fact that both sites became free to visit from January 2016, while there’s a fee for both the Vasa and Skansen.

READ ALSO: Why the Vasa is getting a makeover… and losing weight

In total, around 8.6 million people visited the central sites belonging to the Association of Swedish Museums, which includes the country’s largest museums across the country, according to the association’s figures. Regional museums welcomed 3.6 visitors, while 4.5 million people visited local museums and 1.8 million went to other museums, including both public and private collections.

Compared to recent figures from the Eurobarometer, 80 percent of Swedes visited a museum or gallery at least once in the past year, making them Europe’s most prolific museum-goers. The average across the EU was just 30 percent.


‘Benny is always very kind’: Foreigners’ top encounters with Swedish celebrities

We asked The Local's readers to tell us of a time they met a Swedish celebrity. Here are their best stories.

'Benny is always very kind': Foreigners' top encounters with Swedish celebrities

Some readers shared stories of encounters with Swedes who are also global stars, such as Abba or the King and Queen of Sweden, others spoke of meeting national celebrities who had helped them get to know their new home country.

Anne Foo from Malaysia is a fan of the Sällskapsresan movies by Lasse Åberg, who plays the kind but hapless Stig Helmer.

“It was one of the first Swedish films I watched when I first moved to Sweden that I could understand without needing to be fluent. It helped me understand the Swedish psyche and their humour and Swedish people in general,” she said.

Multi-talented artist Åberg is also known for his sketches of Mickey Mouse, as well as Trazan & Banarne, one of Sweden’s most famous children’s shows, and his band Electric Banana Band. Anne met him when she visited his museum, Åbergs Museum, outside of Stockholm.

“We were not expecting to see him there but we kind of heard he pops by the museum often to help out. We bought tickets for the guided tour and lucky us the guide fell sick (sorry guide!) and Lasse, who happened to pop by just then, took over and gave us a personal guided tour of his museum. He is just as he was as Stig Helmer. Has a down-to-earth humour, very intelligent and humble.”

Another reader, Doug, met Swedish singer Lisa Nilsson when she was performing the lead role in the musical Next to Normal at Stockholm’s Stadsteater, a performance she got rave reviews for.

“I have loved Lisa Nilsson for years, ever since Himlen runt hörnet was required listening in my Swedish class,” he wrote on The Local’s Facebook page.

“After the performance I waited by the stage door to see if I could meet her. Many people came out, but not her – until finally she exited, alone. I approached her and she was not just gracious – she seemed genuinely excited to meet an American fan. We stood (in the rain, no less) and spoke for a while. I came away feeling that my adoration was well-placed: talented, beautiful, and so down to earth. A wonderful entertainer and an extraordinary human being.”

Some readers also shared pictures of themselves running into a Swedish celebrity.

Benjamin Dyke met football coach Sven-Göran Eriksson in Torsby, where Eriksson grew up, at the opening ceremony of the Svennis Cup, a youth football competition held every year in his honour.

Eriksson, more known by his nickname Svennis in Sweden, during his long career coached teams such as Lazio in Italy and brought England, as coach, to the quarter-finals of the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. Earlier this year he disclosed he had been diagnosed with fatal pancreatic cancer.

Dyke’s encounter with Eriksson happened a few years ago, and he walked up to the Swede to thank him for his time as England manager and the two chatted for a while about that.

“He asked where I came from in England and I answered that all my family come from Liverpool. His eyes lit up (I now know he supported Liverpool all his life, as did his dad) but when I explained that I was an Everton fan (the other Liverpool team…) he quickly shut down the conversation and walked away,” said Dyke.

Sven-Göran Eriksson, left, and Benjamin Dyke in 2018. Photo: Private

Readers also shared their stories on The Local’s Facebook page. Lindelwa posted a picture of her chance meeting with Swedish Melodifestivalen winner John Lundvik at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport, although she revealed they did not share a flight.

Lundvik represented Sweden in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest with the song Too Late for Love (and co-wrote the UK’s entry, Bigger than Us, the same year), with which he came in fifth.

Lindelwa and John Lundvik. Photo: Private

Gerard met Abba legend Benny Andersson outside his studio in Stockholm.

“I had never seen Benny’s studio so I went to take a look with the ferry from Djurgården to Skeppsholmen. I was told that Benny was in so I waited for a little while and he came out to meet a few fans,” he said, revealing that it was in fact not the first time he ran into Andersson, a composer also known for co-writing hit musicals such as Chess and Kristina from Duvemåla.

“He’s always very kind and patient. I had met him before, last time in 2010 in London for the concert of Kristina at the Royal Albert Hall. Next stop will be May 27th, the second anniversary of Abba Voyage in London where Benny and Björn will do a Q&A before the show.”

Gerard and Benny Andersson back in 2010. Photo: Private

Several other readers also said they had met members of Abba.

“I was a child visiting my relatives in Sweden the year Voulez-Vous was released. My aunt took me to NK [Stockholm mall] to buy the LP. On our way back to her apartment, she spotted Frida on Hamngatan. My aunt was amazing at celeb-spotting, and she was usually very discreet, but in this case she insisted I go up and say hello! Frida was happy to autograph the album for a young fan; it’s still one of my prized possessions today,” said Sue Trowbridge.

Of course, it’s not always easy to recognise celebrities. You might spot a familiar face but not be able to place it, as happened to Linda on two separate occasions when she ran into a Swedish acting star and a member of the Nobel Prize-awarding Swedish Academy.

“I accidentally stared at Pernilla August in a local food shop. She looked familiar but I couldn’t recognise her. She stared back and I suddenly came to my senses and looked another way. Embarrassed. I’ve also stared at Horace Engdahl,” she said.

In The Local’s original survey call-out, we also included a story from Australian reader Jake Farrugia, who was on his lunch break in NK when he spotted a familiar face, Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria. He walked up to her to ask for a selfie.

“She was very nice and we shared some small talk which truly made me feel like we were on the same level and that she had a strong sense of humanity, as I stood there, butchering her native language with my ‘work in progress’ level of Swedish. I can see why the Swedish people have a deep love and respect for her,” Farrugia said.

“It’s a very un-Swedish thing to do, that’s why I think it’s so fun! All of my encounters with celebrities in Sweden have been very positive so far. It’s all in the approach, you have to be respectful and be OK with others not wanting to give you their time of day, since we all have days where we are feeling less social and those can easily be interpreted as a part of our character, but they rarely are a fair representation.

“If I were to be a celebrity, Sweden would be the place to best blend in. It seems like celebrities can live a somewhat normal life as the construct of ‘celebrity’ isn’t viewed as a thing people go hysteric for as is the case in many other countries.”

The Local’s reader Jake Farrugia snapped this selfie with Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria. Photo: Private