The Victoria Gun, and More

On our recent trip to Stockholm, on our walk out to lovely Djurgården, we decided to pop into Sjöhistoriska, the Maritime Museum. Neither of us had been there before.

They were renovating, and while the exhibitions were nothing to complain about, the whole museum lacked, well, vitality perhaps. It felt dark and dusty, and perhaps this is because some of the things on display shouldn´t be exposed to sunlight. Or perhaps it was just the contrast to spring and birds and girls in short skirts and all that which was going on outside. Also, my interest in boats are limited, but a great display and a great presentation can get me excited about almost anything.

Remember our visit to the Victoria Fort last summer? Well, in the museum was a model of the ship that the gun was taken from, the Queen Victoria (named after the Swedish queen Victoria, wife of king Gustav V). She was one of three battleships that was built in the years before and during the First World War.

The first one was Sverige, and the means for it came from a collection among the Swedish population that raised 17 million crowns - a staggering sum, considering it was launched in 1915! The Swedish parliament then granted additional means to build another two, one of which was the Queen Victoria. And the canon on that ship was later built into the mountain in Vuollerim.

The most beautiful thing in the museum is probably the stern from the royal pleasure schooner, the Amphion. Not much of it remains, but it is exhibited in a way that gives you an idea of what it was like on board when it was used by king Gustav III in the later part of the 18th Century. He didn´t just use it for fun trips with his entourage (he was very interested in the theatre, acted himself, and was probably gay), he also used it as a command ship in battle against the Russians. More pictures here.

Before the Amphion was finally broken up in the 19th Century, she served as a quarantine ship during a cholera epidemic, among other things. Not a very glamorous ending to such a posh vessel.

The museum also has a very comfortable library corner, with comfortable sofas, and interesting books about ships and sea-faring for all ages and levels of expertise. I became particularly engrossed in this classic: Astrid Lindgren´s "Pippi Longstocking goes on board", with all the original illustrations. (I just looked the title up on amazon, and I don´t even want to look at those new illustrations...)

The museum is situated very prettily along the Folke Bernadotte Road, named after the diplomat and vice-president of the Red Cross who is best known for the "White Buses" mission that saved around 10.000 Jews during the Second World War. He was also the grandson of king Oscar II, and his bust is displayed along the road.

I should amuse myself writing a blog post sometime about the Swedish royal family. There are some great characters among them. The "old king" - as we think of him, the one who came before our present king Carl XVI Gustaf - was the present king´s grandfather. Gustav VI Adolf was his name, and he was also a very keen and competent archeologist. Both his wives were descendants of Queen Victoria of England. There are some great photo books about his digs in Italy at the library, must share some of that with you.

Anyway, if you look back towards the city from the museum stairs, you can see the very impressive, palatial Nordiska Museet, the Swedish museum of cultural history. This is one of those places I always think I am going to visit next time I come to Stockholm. Because it´s huge. Overwhelmingly huge. I doubt you can do it justice in just one day. But I will try. Next time.


  1. pippi longstocking! what fond memories! i loved them as a child, and my kids -especially my daughter- loved them, too. i don't remember who illustrated our books, and they are most likely up in the attic unless my daughter has them.

    i noticed at our library exhibit that there's a nobel prize museum in stockholm? but i think the cultural history museum would be a must-see for tourists.

    1. Yes, Pippi Longstocking, and all the other Astrid Lindgren books are classics. I understand someone is planning a movie about Astrid Lindgren. Can´t imagine what actress they will get to play her - she´s a true icon, at least to my generation and those older. She was like a grandma and a naughty child in one. Independent, but not entirely grown up.

      Yes, there is a Nobel museum in the Old Town, in the Swedish Academy building. We have never been, never even considered going, but perhaps the Nobel prize not as big a part of Swedish identity as it is a part of our image abroad. And I wouldn´t rank the cultural history museum very high on the list of must-sees, as there is so much: the Royal Palace, The National Art museum, The Old Town, Djurgården, the heritage museum/zoo Skansen, the 17th Century royal battleship Vasa, a boat-trip to Fjäderholmarna, another boat-trip to Mariefred and Gripsholm Castle, a third boat-trip to the Iron age town Birka, omg so so much! It all depends how much time you happen to have.