The gods are returning to Nationalmuseum
Nationalmuseum, the largest art and design museum in Sweden, has undergone extensive renovation since 2013. The museum is now getting ready to reopen its doors to the public, which means that thousands of objects are being returned to the museum. They include the spectacular statues of the Norse gods Oden, Tor and Balder.
Swedish sculptor Bengt Erland Fogelberg fashioned the marble statues of the three Norse gods in Rome during the 19th century. They had been commissioned by the Swedish king, and were transported to the royal castle in Stockholm. When Nationalmuseum was opened in 1866, it was decided to transport the statues from Slottsbacken to the new museum. This required the collective strength of 40 men.
100 years at Nationalmuseum
Nationalmuseum was home to the three Nordic gods until 1966, when it was time for a new move, this time to the Swedish History Museum. And at the end of the 1980s the gods moved on again, now to the Orangery at Ulriksdal Palace. The Orangery was built as early as the 17th century and used to cultivate what was at the time considered to be exotic fruit. In the modern age, the Orangery has been used to house an exhibition of Nationalmuseum’s collection of Swedish sculpture.
Oden required his own transport
Extensive renovation of the Nationalmuseum started in 2013, and it took more than a year and a half simply to empty the museum. As the museum started to move back during 2018, it was decided that the museum should renew its acquaintance with the Nordic gods.
MTAB was responsible for the transport of the gods from the Orangery to Nationalmuseum, and installing them at their new locations. Using modern vehicles and specialist tools, the transport was considerably easier than it had been in 1866. But the three gods still presented a challenge.
We have thousands of objects that we must return to the museum. This is delicate work, where the most spectacular operation is bringing the three Nordic gods back.
Tor weighs two tonnes and Balder three, and they could be loaded with the aid of a mobile crane. The heaviest stature, Oden, weighs just over three tonnes, and had to travel on his own special transport. Surrounded by a sturdy steel frame designed by MTAB, the statues were unloaded in front of the museum entrance. In order to reduce the load on the floors inside the museum, special rails were built and used to move the statues onwards into the museum.
We are immensely proud of being trusted with the removal, transport and installation of these spectacular gods. With excellent collaboration, careful planning and professional execution, the three gods are now back in place at the Nationalmuseum.