Moderna Museet

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Stockholm. The Swedish national collection of modern art. It is situated on Skeppsholmen (Ship Island), a former naval base in the centre of the city. In 1954 a large building on the island (an old drill hall, originally 18th century but much altered) was given to the Nationalmuseum to house its modern works, and this opened as the Moderna Museet in 1958. The first director was the painter Otte Sköld (1894–1958), who was also head of the Nationalmuseum. He died soon after the opening and was succeeded by Pontus Hulten, who was director until 1974. Hulten quickly established the Moderna Museet as one of the world's leading institutions in its field, with an outstanding permanent collection and a vigorous exhibition programme. In 1966, for example, the museum was the site for Niki de Saint Phalle's creation of her huge sculpture Hon, considered a pioneering work of Environment art and installation art, and in 1968 a reconstruction of Tatlin's model for the Monument to the Third International was made for an exhibition devoted to him (Hon no longer exists, but the Tatlin model remains in the museum's collection). In line with the politics of Sweden at this time, the Moderna Museet expressed social democratic ideals and aimed to appeal to a broad audience, including children, for whom education programmes and workshops were devised.

The museum has a particularly strong tradition in contemporary art, but its collections and exhibitions cover the whole field of modernism (it also covers photography; the Fotografiska Museet was amalgamated into the Moderna Museet in 1974). In 1994 it moved to temporary accommodation in an old tram depot on the Birger Jarlsgatan in the north of the city whilst a new museum (designed by the Spanish architect Rafael Moneo) was built adjacent to the original (now converted into an architecture museum). The new Moderna Museet building opened in 1998. It is more than four times the size of the original building, giving it space to sustain varied programmes for temporary exhibitions, film, and video, as well as show substantial parts of the permanent collection. The director at this time was the first non-Swede to run the Moderna Museet, David Elliott (formerly director of the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford; see Modern Art Oxford), who held the post from 1996 and 2001.

Subjects: Art.

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