2011 Stockholm, Sweden

The location of the ICAMT Conference this year is Stockholm. Our Swedish ICAMT colleague Mårten Jansson prepared the programme. The theme of this year’s Conference is:

‘Redefine/ Redesign : Planning for Major Refurbishment’

Final Program version of 4th October 2011

The building in which a museum is housed can often be one of the institution’s most important assets and in many cases justifiably need to be treated as a part of the collection. With the passage of time museum buildings frequently become historical monuments in their own right, becoming significant representatives of the architecture of their times. Finding the right balance continues to tax designers and museums and the theme of this conference is how do modern institutions cope with the need to renew their premises in such historic buildings whilst, taking issues such as conservation, financial constraints and the visitors’ needs and expectations into account?

Day 1: Vasa Museum

Day 2: National Museum

Day 3: Museum of Architecture

Day 4: Uppsala, Museum Gustavianum

We will look at three of Stockholm´s main museum institutions, housed in buildings from the 18th, 19th and 20th century, all facing the need for refurbishment in order to meet the contemporary challenges.


Day 1: Vasa Museum
October 6, 2011

Who´s next for the pen?

Discussing audience logistics at Vasa Museum  
Vasa Museum was opened in 1991. At the time of opening the estimated maximum number of visitors was set at a number of 600 000, at the time expected to be optimistic next to naive. 2010, the museum received a number of 1 100 000 visitors. Construction of the much needed extension was commenced in the presence of the Swedish Minister of Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth in September.

The building was originally designed by architects Månsson Dahlbäck, and they have also been appointed senior advisors for the extension. The basic idea around the extension was that additional floor space to cater for all the visitors in summer was needed. In the extension, temporary exhibitions can be housed which will decrease audience pressure in the main gallery, dominated by the giant ship´s hull, museum director Marika Hedin told the conference participants.

Vasa Museum has a special situation in that a big majority of the visitors come during the summer months, whereas winter season means relatively few visitors.

– During  ow season we can use the extension for activities that can make the museum more relevant to our local audience, Marika Hedin said. In high season, the new gallery´s temporary exhibitions will attract visitors in order to keep the crowds surrounding the  actual ship at bay. 

Questions were, however, aroused as to whether the extension will solve the problems pointed out by Marika Hedin and her team. A detailed discussion was initated, on the extent to which location of exits and entrances, cashiers, reception desk, locker rooms, restrooms and other infrastructural necessities in a museum, were actually placed correctly to allow a sufficient visitor flow in and and out of the museum. 

ICAMT members lined up to point out alternative solutions than those decided by the architects and the museum staff, using a ballpoint pen on the projected overview of the existing and planned parts of the museum.


Day 2: National Museum
October 7, 2011

Invading the attic
Exeriencing museum lightning and hidden spaces at Nationalmuseum

Nationalmuseum was originally opened in 1866. Apart from a minor refurbishment in the 1960s, when one of the two courtyards was built in, the building is largely unaltered. The museum staff and its collections now suffer from being crowded while the exhibition spaces are far from ideal. From 2013, the museum plans a major overhaul, which will mean that the museum closes for three years and the collection has to be relocated. While the staff still impatiently awaits final go-ahead from the government, the situation is considered serious enough for the plans to perceed, while waiting for the funding of these huge refurbishment plans be approved.

The undertaking is impressive, as showed by various members of the staff during the conference day. An extension added in the 1960s will be demolished in order to allow for a new wing of the museum, including underground storing facilities under the park surrounding the building. Curator Helena Kåberg also showed how the museum intend to open all the boarded-up windows, in order to let daylight once again flood the galleries, as originally intended.  The overall ambition is to use the building and the qualities thereof, as a tool for exhibiting the collections, as Kåberg put it.

The talks were followed by a guided tour, by staff member Veronica Hejdelind, of the museum´s experimental project ”Museum in New Light”, were the ICAMT members could experience samples of what the museum staff aspires to acchieve in the whole building in terms of allowing for new and different experiences of the collections by using light in creative ways.

A highlight for many was, nevertheless, a tour through the attic of the museum. The roof still has wide glass surfaces on the roof, in order to let light in. These are however, mostly covered up. The construction, unaltered for more than 150 years, can still be experienced by those allowed access to the attic.


Day 3: Museum of Architecture
October 8, 2011

Walking the roof

Spatial experiments and design discussions at Museum of Architecture

Museum of Architecture is housed in an old military drill hall adjoining Rafael Moneo´s 1998 building for the Modern Museum. The museum has a large and expanding collection of sketches, drawings and models related to all the nationally and internationally acclaimed Swedish architects, a permanent display of architectural styles, mostly of Swedish and European origin, and a big gallery for temporary exhibitions. This was empty at the time of our visit, as construction of a new exhibition on the Stockholm City Hall and its architect Ragnar Östberg was scheduled to commence soon.

Following new ambitions from the Swedish government and a new director, Lena Rahoult, the Museum of Architecture has underwent a large reorganisation of its staff and organisation. Apart from being Sweden´s major museum on architecture, the museum will also be responsible for design issues and to provide a meetingplace and a forum for debate on contemporaruy design issues. This was explained by Annelie Strömberg, Head of Audiences, in her address to the conference participants.  In an attempt to seek new ways to meet its audience and stake holders the museum kept contiously open for a full 36 hours in February 2011. The main museum gallery was opened for architects and designers to set up office, arrange talks as well as develop and assess methods to engage with the public.

A guided walk of the museum and the adjoining park was performed by staff member Pepe Tur Pastor, of which the most memorable part was an exercise in which the conference participants formed a line and all held a mirror just below the eyes. The sensation of walking in the roof was quite overwhelming and drew alot of laughs, not the least from those who choose to stand aside and watch the stumbling line of ICAMT members.


Day 4: Uppsala, Museum Gustavianum
October 9, 2011

ICAMT member Isabel Mendoza has kindly agreed to act as guide to museums in Uppsala including her own institution, Museum Gustavianum, The museum is housed in Uppsala University’s oldest preserved building with the Anatomical Theatre on the roof. Exhibited at the museum are the Augsburg Art Cabinet, discoveries from the Viking period, the history of the University, mummies and much more.