Tuesday, 21 November 2017
Museum Mission (Stockholm): the flat at Stickelbärsvägen 7, Stadsmuseet
Let's open the door to a flat, barnrikehuset, from 1937! There are four apartments of this kind around the city, encapsulating time and letting the visitors walk around and discover and actually touch the things.
What might be so special about it, besides the hands-on approach? you might be thinking. Well, this was an apartment designated for families with many children - they had to be at least two, or as an exception, a child must be chronically ill. The price was subsidised and there were luxuries such as a bathtube (but no balcony, that was thought of as too much for a poor family) and a pull-out baking surface. And hot water! The use of which was limited to one shower per week during the war.
Berndt, today 90 years old, is the only inhabitant from this home (they were a family with four boys) who is still alive and has contributed to the apartment story: how the details used to be and what the family life was like (at one point, the right to two weeks of vacation was introduced and gave the poor mother a possibilty to breathe; she was always busy around the house and peeled the potatoes of everyone at dinner, including her husband's, and stood up while the men ate). In addition to the witness description, the neighbours donated the sofa and layers of wallpaper had to be scratched through to find the originals. Stadsmuseet acquired the flat in the 90's, just before "spatious" started becoming a trend.
Contract. You could be forced to leave if you didn't behave, which happened. There was a controlling profession to check out the tenants: a young woman would be coming in the evening (not all evenings, I presume) to ask if any help was needed. Maybe the gas stove had broken? And while there, she would make a discrete inspection.
This is a very particular thing: except for embroideries of names on pillow cases, they also had long ribbons with this folded shape. During the guided tour, a visitor showed us how her own mother used to do this with a knife (but one can also use this tool). It is for decorative purposes, probably coming from the upper class traditions, passed on by the skivvy to their own homes.
Design from the 30's. The candy I am holding is a blue powder which makes white linen look whiter.
From the outside, it looks like any apartment. Nor are there any signs that indicate the hidden pearl. Stadsmuseet arranges guided tours roughly four times every six months!