This is the first morning in ages in these pandemic times we are doing something worth writing about. We are visiting Millesgården, the studios and the residential house of one of the most famous Swedish artists/ sculptors. Carl Milles created his own mythological dream world on magnificent terraces on the island of Lidingö overlooking the waters of Stockholm.
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 11am-5pm
Additional opening hours for risk groups: Sat – Sun 10-11am.
Admission fees 2021
Adults: 150 SEK
Students: 120 SEK
Groups (10 persons or more): 120 SEK
Children and teenagers (0-18 years): 0 SEK
By public transportation
Metro to Ropsten and then bus 201, 202, 204, 206, 211, 212 or 221 to Torsviks Torg. Then walk 300 meters to Millesgården following the signs.
Lidingöbanan (local tram) from metro station Ropsten to Torsvik or Baggeby and walk to Millesgården.
Check local transport time tables at www.sl.se
Herserudsvägen 32, 181 50 Lidingö.
Parking: Free parking is available just outside the main entrance, at Herserudsvägen 32.
The history of Millesgården
A huge sculpture of the Greek god Poseidon, god of the sea, storms, earthquakes and horses, stands on a terrace overlooking the inner seas of the Stockholm archipelago. Welcome to Millesgården, the property of artist couple Carl, 1875-1955, and Olga Milles, 1874-1967, built in 1908, holding both living and working spaces. Over the years Millesgården expanded with an open-air art studio in the loggia wing, several new terraces including the Lower terrace with the Sculpture park and Anne’s house. In 1936 Millesgården was donated to the Swedish people in the form of a foundation.
Poseidon, the largest sculpture in Millesgården, is a smaller version of the Poseidon sculpture in Götaplatsen in Gothenburg.
Millesgården consists of several different areas: the large and open Lower terrace created with the Italian piazza as a model and the Sculpture park with replicas of famous sculptures spread all over the world. Himmelstrappan leading up to the Middle terrace holding the sculpture of Solsångaren från 1926, originally seen on Strömparterren in Stockholm. The Upper terrace, the oldest part of Millesgården from 1908 onwards with the residential house and art studios of Carl and Olga Milles.
Also don’t miss Lilla Österrike/Olgas terrass – Little Austria/the Terrace of Olga – dedicated to Mrs Milles who originated from Austria. Here, in a small stone building, Skogskapellet, are the graves of Carl and Olga Milles.
In Konstnärshemmet/the Artist home, the main building on the Upper terrace, you will find the Large studio with plaster casts of Milles bronze sculptures. Unfortunately, you cannot visit the residential areas nor the Observatory.
You need not necessarily be a huge fan of Carl Milles, nor particularly be interested in art or sculptures to enjoy a visit to Millesgården. The ambience of the place is an enjoyment in itself. You cannot but imagine how wonderfully inspiring this place must have been for the artists and their artwork.
Water and mythology are constant themes for Milles and often in combination. All sculptures are also turned towards the water. Or facing and reaching for the sky.
Strolling around in the Sculpture park of the Lower terrace looking at the many sculptures on pillars as high that they seem to be touching the sky is meditative. Milles was truly fascinated by astronomy and thus placed his sculptures on these high pillars so that we would watch them from below with the sky as a backdrop.
Also, don’t miss Anne’s House on the Lower terrace, where the secretary of the Milles lived from the 1950s to 1986. Here, in the music room, Carl Milles died on September 19, 1955.
Collectors of art
Carl and Olga Milles were great collectors of art and their inspiration from travelling, especially to the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, can be seen all over Konstnärshemmet/the Artist home. Sculptures and artwork are exhibited in a bright and inspiring environment.
The antique collection
As the income from his work started to increase, Carl Milles began to collect Greek and Roman antiquities. In the beautifully sun-stricken gallery in the east wing of Kontnärshemmet, you will find some impressive antiquities dating back to hundreds of years BC.
Exhibitions at Millesgården
Millesgårdens temporary exhibitions are exhibited in the Art Gallery which was opened in 1999. The current exhibition is PUNK & GLAMOUR – A private collection of fashion by Vivienne Westwood and is open until May 9, 2021. Showing Vivienne Westwood’s five decades in fashion and couture – from the early years of the original punk movement in partnership with Malcolm Mclaren, the manager of the Sex Pistols, to her commitment to politics and activism against climate change.
The original punk rocker
Vivienne Westwood’s punk aesthetic shocked conservative England in the 1970s, her clothes featuring bondage suits made from military tartan and torn tops resembling straight jackets with pins and slogans like “Destroy” over a nazi swastika and Jesus being crucified upside down. She and Malcolm McLaren sold their clothes from the shop at 430 Kings Road, London. Then called SEX, but in 2009, when we are there it is named World’s End.
Getting to Millesgården
Getting to Millesgården from the Stockholm city centre is easy and takes only 20 minutes with public transportation. Please see the information at the top.
This day, however, we choose another alternative to the metro and bus. We hop on the shuttle boat from Nybroplan. It takes 40 minutes and costs 37 SEK. Getting off at Dalénum, it takes about 30 minutes to walk north to Millesgården. The road is not particularly pretty and is not recommended, although the boat ride from the city is. You do need a map not to get lost. Lidingö is a big island.
You can spend several hours visiting Millesgården. But you should dedicate at least two. There is a museum shop in the art gallery, a café and restaurant, Millesgården Lanthandel, or you can just sit down on one of the terraces enjoying the views and the many works of art.
This is such a perfect place for contemplation and meditation. Perhaps especially now during the time of the pandemic when visitor numbers are low and restricted. It is easy to keep your distance and as a lot of the exhibitions take place in the outdoors, it feels safe, yet still very welcoming.