Last week I finally had the chance to do something I’ve been wanting to do almost since the day we moved to Stockholm: I visited the Carl Eldhs Studio Museum. It’s a small museum situated near the top of a hill in a park on the northern end of the city. The first summer we were in the city we walked by it nearly every day, but my constant companion was an eight-month old–and eight-month olds generally are not good museum buddies.
So, three years in the waiting, I finally made it, and it was well worth the wait. The bulk of the exhibition is housed in two rooms with soaring windows and stunning natural light. While the space contains hundreds of objects, from statuettes to busts, preliminary sketches to original models, it still feels spacious–and extraordinary.
The bulk of Carl Eldhs‘s work was completed in the first half of the twentieth century, and after studying in Paris, he was heavily influenced by Rodin. His monuments and statues can be found all over Sweden. Although he is famous for these large monuments, during my visit I was drawn to some of his more humble, everyday pieces. Eldhs captured the intimacy between people–two lovers, a mother and child–so exquisitely and with such humanity. I was captivated by these simple figures.
After every visit to a museum, I reflect on what my favorite piece was. This time it was this reclining, nursing mother with her babe. (I am sure this is partly because I have never been able to achieve this breastfeeding position myself and am jealous of the ease and grace shown here!) We’re still in the young kid phase of parenting, though every day I am aware of how quickly it is passing: here, captured forever, is the mutual adoration of a mother and her nursling.
I can’t wait to go back to Carl Eldhs’s studio. While it’s often a luxury to be able to visit a museum more than once, I often feel that the first visit to a new museum is to absorb the space and get a general impression and feeling for the work. Subsequent visits are to delve into the artist, the history, the particulars of the objects.
The museum has strange hours: it’s open mostly in the summer, with Sunday openings in April and October. It is open most (but not all) afternoons May – September, and it’s not exactly on the way to anything else–which is to say that if you want to go, you have to be deliberate in your planning. A guided tour is included with the cost of admission, though there’s usually only one tour in English, held at 1:30. This obscure, sublime museum is well worth a special visit.
Have you been to the Carl Eldhs Studio Museum? What’s your favorite museum? Do you have any tips or hints for getting the most out of a museum visit?
All photos by me. Special thanks to the Carl Eldhs Studio Museum for allowing me to use these photos on the blog.