I was looking forward to visiting the Swedish History Museum (Historiska Museet) because it's said to have one of the best Viking collections anywhere. Imagine my disappointment when entering the museum to discover that the Viking wing was completely closed for renovations. What a let-down!
Fortunately, there were a lot of other items and displays to capture my attention. The museum's collection includes some 10 million objects spanning 10,000 years; obviously, not all of these can be displayed at once. By far, my favorite stop of that day was the museum's Gold Room, with its treasure of gold and silver historic artefacts.
(Entrance to the Gold Room is to the right)
The Gold Room is in the museum's lower level. It's a concrete bunker blasted into the bedrock covering 700 m2 (7,500 sq ft). You get a sampling of some historic items as you descend down a hallway into the Gold Room, such as a rune carving dating from 1040.
(Sigurd rock carving)
The Gold Room has 3000 objects made from a total of 52 kg (115 lb) of gold and more than 200 kg (440 lb) of silver. Beyond the bullion weight of the precious metals is their craftsmanship, rarity and historic significance, so the collection is literally priceless. It's not surprising that it's stored in a vault, and I was grateful that these items are even displayed to the general public.
Gold is a beautiful metal that has fascinated mankind throughout history. When you see treasures made of gold that you get some feeling for its appeal and significance. It has the power to draw people to it.
Many of the items in the collection are from hoards hidden in the ground, their owners killed or died off and the location of the hoard forgotten. Such collections have often been discovered by farmers and others working the land and forests. Because of a 17th century law, all gold and silver artifacts more than 100 years old found in the country must be sold to the Swedish state, for which a fair price is paid. The finders become rich off their discovered treasures, but they cannot not keep them. It's because of this law that the History Museum has such a large and diverse collection.
Displays show numerous gold rings and jewelry, gold collars, pendants, dishes, coins and artworks. Items are displayed in a low light environment and photography was often challenging. A sampling of the collection is shown below:
(A small taste of the silver items found in the collection, these I believe from the Viking period)
I spent a long time studying the collection in the Gold Room before I moved on. Next week we'll take a look at some other items in the Museum.