Long layovers are one of two things: a huge inconvenience or a window of opportunity. They become unavoidable when you make travel a dedicated sport and I’ve developed an unaffected resilience to them…but this time things were very different.
This time I went looking for trouble. This time I knew with every fiber of my being that I was destined for glory. I was giddy at the thought that I was closer than usual to the greatest thing on earth, so I did what any sane ABBA fan would do in my position. I went for a long layover in Stockholm for the chance t0 visit ABBA The Museum for the second time.
Yes, a second time.
…and you’ll never guess what I am listening to as I write this.
It all started in 2004 when I got an iPod for Christmas. I loaded it up with the tunes that get you cool points, but I also stood proudly for the artist smack at the top of my library. The contrast with my angsty rock was noted, but it didn’t matter because Gimmie! Gimmie! Gimmie! the music that got me.
Exactly 10 years later to the week that I got that iPod I was standing in front of the ABBA Museum in Stockholm during a trip to Sweden. I was so overwhelmed with excitement that I went through the museum backwards, not noticing until the very end. I went home inspired to learn the most useful language in our global economy. Swedish.
Should I Laugh or Cry?
Last year the museum got some updates, including life-size wax figures (see above), and I thought it would be years before I got to go back to fill the Hole in (my) Your Soul…until I was booking a flight home from Italy and was stunned that I didn’t realize it sooner. I don’t think I’ve ever been that thrilled for a layover before!
Formed by two couples in 1972, ABBA was rocketed to stardom after winning the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest and giving Sweden its first win. Agnetha, Björn, Benny, and Anni-Frid went on to be one of the most successful acts in the WORLD, having an incredible 10 year run before going their separate ways. ABBA is legend. Read for yourself.
ABBA The Museum, technically a very large exhibit in the Swedish Music Hall of Fame, is packed with ABBA memorabilia and interactive displays. In the recreation of the Polar Music Studio is a piano that’s linked to the piano at Benny’s home and plays in real time if he’s on it. There’s a red phone from Ring Ring that will ring if a member of ABBA decides to call, and a lucky visitor gets.to.talk.to.them. I stood next to it for a while practicing my surprise face, just in case. Needless to say, I Have A Dream.
Every ticket has a barcode on it that you can scan at interactive portions in the museum that records an activity for you to re-live at home. There’s a recording studio, music video dance, and a HOLOGRAM ABBA DANCING AND SINGING SESSION. I was THE Dancing Queen.
There are costumes, props, records, fan mail…just about everything you could think of that tell the story of the greatest music group in history (Yeah I know, I’m biased). Unfortunately I was born too late to experience ABBA in person, but gazing at the life-size wax figures made me feel like I could have been there. The gift shop is an ABBA fan dream but I managed to hold back.
I love it when museums incorporate fun, interactive technologies into their exhibits that give a new spin to how a story is told. I’m all about physical places and context as evidenced by this blog, and I’ve really come to appreciate the ways museums are evolving. While this may not fit in with my history objectives, being able to look at this as a case study of what different kinds of museums can do to engage visitors was really neat.
It’s important to note that my favorite open air museum and the place that inspired my whole blogging project is right across the street, Skansen. It’s telling that Stockholm seems to be the center of my universe, and I’ll admit that when I’m feeling uninspired and or unmotivated I will go to Ikea and write in their cafe while having a fika. My best work has consistently been there.
So this one is for you, Sweden. Thank You For the Music.
In case you were wondering, my favorite ABBA song is Summer Night City, yes I would get an ABBA tattoo, and I’ve never seen Mamma Mia!