Daily Archives: September 4, 2008

The 1897 Stockholm fair uncovered

The Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm have done interesting excavation earlier this summer and published some thoughts in a blog (in Swedish). They excavated an artificial island that was created for the Stockholm fair (Stockholmsutställningen) of 1897 also known as the public art- and industrial exhibit (Allmänna Konst- och Industriutställningen). On this artificial island an environment portraying Helgeandsholmen (an island that is part of the old town in Stockholm) during the 16th century. The houses was built in half its original size and there were people playing the parts of medieval inhabitants of Stockholm.

In the blog “Jakten på den försvunna staden – Vi gräver ut Stockholms utställningen från 1897” are several interesting post on the excavation and on the finds. There is more – there are also films existing from the fair available on-line, check them out as well as a lot of pictures.

The excavation seems to have given the archaeologist a lot to think about; among other things they uncovered a part of a cobble stoned street where several thousands of people must have walked during the fair. Strangely this area is empty on finds. As there is no maps or blueprints of the reconstructions the archaeologist have to rely on  photographs to identify specific houses and constructions which makes thier work a bit difficult. They have however found the remains of the reconstructed Helgeandshuset (The house of the Holy Spirit). Helgeandshuset was founded in the 13th century and was an institution for the poor and sick. Within the house was a hospital, a chapel and a graveyard.

I think that this is a good example on historical archaeology and what archaeology can do to make history come alive. The pictures and films from the Stockholm fair gives it all an extra dimension it takes you back in time gives the 20th century new life. I hope that the Museum of National Antiquities uses the material both from the excavation and from the archives to do an interesting expo on the Stockholm fair later on.

Magnus Reuterdahl

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