• Nationalmuseum facade Photographer: Mats Montner
  • Photographer: Mats Montner
    Photographer: Mats Montner
  • Photographer: Mats Montner
  • Photographer: Mats Montner
    Photographer: Mats Montner
  • Photographer: Mats Montner
  • Photographer: Mats Montner

Nationalmuseum in a new light

Nationalmuseum (or National Museum of Fine Arts) opened in a new light in October 2018. Stüler’s building dating back to the 1860s had undergone a wide-ranging renovation and refurbishment, and been transformed from Stockholm’s rather dark Nationalmuseum into a world-class building bathed in light. The renovation was carried out by the National Property Board Sweden and took just over four years.

Nationalmuseum was designed by the German architect Friedrich August Stüler and was first declared open in 1866. After almost 150 years as a museum of art on Blasieholmen, it was time for a wide-ranging renovation and refurbishment that would put Nationalmuseum in a new light.

The royal art collection became a museum

Nationalmuseum is founded on the royal art collections, which had largely passed into State ownership following the death of King Gustav III. In accordance with the King’s wishes, a museum was established in the north-eastern wing of the palace for his collection of antique statues, and in the palace’s lower gallery for paintings. The need for a separate building was discussed in 1814, but it was not until 1845 that the Swedish Parliament decided to build a museum.

Stüler’s best-preserved building

The architect Fredrik Wilhelm Scholander was charged with the task of drawing up a proposal for a museum building. This formed the basis of the Office of the Marshall of the Realm’s (National Property Board Sweden’s predecessor) own proposal, and work started on the building’s foundations. Following a debate about the museum’s design, the assignment was passed on to the German architect Friedrich August Stüler, who adapted his proposal to the foundations already laid. Stüler believed that a museum building should have plenty of decorative embellishment.

Venetian architecture in the heart of Stockholm

The museum building is inspired by Venetian architecture. It is a three-storey building with a prominent central section. The façade was clad in limestone from Borghamn and has a classic design. Fredrik Wilhelm Scholander was responsible for the interior architecture. The walls of the lower vestibule were clad in polished marble. Floors and walls are clad in red and grey limestone, turquoise-green Kolmård marble and white or grey Carrara marble. The portals in the vestibule are carved in Carrara marble and decorated with antique mythological heads.

The upper stairwell was given the most expensive interior design and was intended to house King Gustav III’s collection of antique sculptures. Nationalmuseum opened in 1866. Some of the artistic decoration, such as Carl Larsson’s fresco paintings, was added later.

Refurbishments and renovations

Down the years the museum building has been rearranged, refurbished and modernised to meet new needs. In 1960 the southern courtyard was converted into a lecture room. A store, lifts and a large exhibition room were also added at the same time. In 1961-64 the annex was converted for use as a transport department, photographic studio, x-ray studio and workshops for restorers and craftspeople. The northern atrium was converted into a restaurant in 1994-95. In 1995-96 there was a major refurbishment of the ground floor. In the years 1997-2000 the “Ateljén” was added for artistic activities and the exhibition rooms on levels 4 and 6 were renovated.

Nationalmuseum in a new light

In 2012-17, the biggest, most wide-ranging renovation of Nationalmuseum was undertaken since the building was erected. In February 2013, Nationalmuseum closed down its operations on Blasieholmen and the National Property Board Sweden started the renovation of the museum building. The architects who were given the assignment were the Wingårdhs and Wikerståls architectural firms.

The previously bricked-up windows were opened up, and the light flooded in once more. The atria were given new roofs and an enormous lift was built in the southern atrium to take a large number of people and simplify the logistics in the building. New ventilation and other new technical installations mean that Nationalmuseum can now have up to 2,000 people in its premises at the same time, twice the previous number. The colour scheme on the walls is new, but was inspired by Stüler’s colour scales from the 1860s. In the domed ceiling they decided either to go back to the original colour or to use a colour scheme from the 1920s. The museum reopened to the public in October 2018, just as promised in a new light.


  • WC
  • Elevator
  • Wheelchair ramp
  • Weelchair
  • Café
  • Restaurant
  • Guided tours
  • Harbour

Place on map

Stor karta



Södra Blasieholmskajen 2

111 48 Stockholm
59.32850, 18.07760


Friedrich August Stüler, interior Fredrik Willhelm Scholander. Renovation by Wingårdh's architects and Vikerståls architects