Heritage interpretation in Stockholm Day Three: the lesson I needed to learn

I set out yesterday in search of Swedish artists – about whom I was impressively ignorant – and of five interpretation pointers I could write about here (see yesterday’s post).

It turns out that are not five pointers today. Just one big five times over – Take time to enjoy the things you love. Inspire, delight and  and educate yourself before you try to do it for anyone else.

Those of us who work so hard and think( and write) so much about how the relationship between people and their natural/human heritage works need sometimes just to feel it. Yesterday I did that.

It reminded me that there is in the heart of what we do, at least for the right people at the right time, potential for magic and an alchemy that feels like pure love. There is also serendipity.


On the previous day we had seen international art, today we wanted a more local focus.

We decided to start at the Thiel Galley, an Arts and Crafts house (we have a rather soft spot for them too) which we knew had a collection of mainly Swedish paintings (plus several by Munch) from the turn of the 19/20 centuries. It was a beautiful bus ride through the parkland of Djurgarden, the greenest of the Stockholm islands. We felt happy
that we were doing ‘our thing’, seeking out the places that really appealed to us. The first two days of our visits were for the ‘must sees’, this was for serendipity, discovery and relaxation.  This feels to me like a typical visitor journey albeit spread over a longer time scale

We had a lovely lunch in a simple elegant room (that’s Arts and Crafts for you) and set off to see the ‘Stockholm Now exhibition’ which hung contemporary fashion photography alongside paintings from the core collection. It sounded rather unpromising I thought and decided I would ignore the photographs. In fact it was a brilliant concept, fantastically executed that made us appreciate again the art and skill of curating and hanging an exhibition.

By this time we were quite excited. We had passed the postcard rack in the way to the admissions desk and had spotted a couple of Bruno Liljefors. An art historian friend had introduced us to the work of this wildlife artist who is almost unknown ( except to wildlife artists) in the UK. (Our friend’s dream is to arrange an exhibits of his work – I hope she succeeds.) We had loved it but apart from three or four paintings had only seen reproductions. We had forgotten Liljefors was Swedish.

We rushed off to see the paintings in this exhibition.


They were stunning. We stared at them for ages. We lost ourselves in the light on the water, the ducks coming out of the dark, the eagles, the eiders, the colours, the brushwork. The vision.

Reproductions are only whispers and echoes. The real thing has the power of goshawks killing grouse, morning in the forest, moonlit marshes.

We went back to the entrance desk and talked to the clearly knowledgable woman on the desk about our excitement and Liljefors. We asked where we could see more. As per usual she told us we had just missed a major exhibition – but that the Prins Eugens Waldermarsudde a half hour walk away had an exhibition of Liljefors in combination with contemporary Swedish wildlife photography. So off we went.

On the way the heavens opened. By the time we arrived at the galley we were soaked to skin. Happily they let us in. There were four rooms of Liljefors painting. We were transported. (The wildlife photography was wonderful too.)

At the end of the day someone tweeted ‘you can’t create inspiration, you can only woo it.’ Yesterday inspiration wooed us.

About susancrosstelltale

Great visits to heritage and natural sites do not happen by accident. This blog is about the work that make special sites great places to visit. I hope it will be useful to visitors and host alike. Find out more at me and my blog.
This entry was posted in enjoying heritage, Good places to visit, Ireland, Museums, Visit experience, Visitors and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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