Thank you for the music: ABBA The Museum Director Caroline Fagerlind on Stockholm’s liveliest museum
A lot has happened since Caroline Fagerlind first started working with ABBA The Museum, but one thing has remained the same: this place is about as fun and engaging as any tourist attraction anywhere could possibly get – and that’s not entirely surprising, seeing the museum of course tells the story of Sweden’s greatest-ever pop export, legendary ABBA!
Now working as the museum’s Director, Fagerlind has great ambitions to continue to expand the ABBA experience, introducing even more ways to engage with the iconic music group and, of course, making time to celebrate the recent arrival of the band’s first new music in decades… What better excuse could there be for a coffee and a catch-up?
We’re still buzzing with the recent announcement of ABBA’s comeback – what was the reaction at ABBA The Museum?
Who would have guessed that they would actually make new music again! It’s something fans all over the world have hoped for since the 80s and now it’s finally happening. Of course, there was an incredible reaction from both visitors and teams, who had long waited for this to happen. It was really quite emotional to be at the museum when the news broke. We talked to the visitors and fans, and everyone was hugely appreciative!
The pandemic has obviously been challenging for everyone, but we hear that ever since ABBA The Museum reopened its doors, the response has been fantastic. Why do you think people are gravitating towards the museum now?
There have actually been more visitors than we’d thought, though it’s obviously been hard making predictions, given that the main portion of our visitors are tourists. I think people have longed for so long to meet again, have fun together, listen to music, dance and sing. Just like our tagline says: Walk In. Dance Out!
I also think that the new music that ABBA has released contributes to people being curious to know more about ABBA and how it all began. We tell the story from the 60s until today: it’s the full story, in a single place!
The museum has educational elements, but it is also about interaction and fun. What new ways to engage with ABBA’s story can visitors look forward to in the coming years?
As a museum, we’re of course particularly happy that ABBA have chosen to record new music, because it enables us to continue to tell their story and add the new music and chapters of their story to our exhibition. We have new objects and interactive parts that will be added to the exhibition, which I can’t reveal just yet. Also, ABBA will celebrate their 50-year anniversary next year, and we will be joining the festivities by launching a new, temporary showcase that will focus on what their fans have meant to ABBA throughout the years. Stay tuned…
You’ve been with ABBA The Museum for a long time, working your way up to your current position as Museum Director Caroline Fagerlind. What is your experience of working with the team, and how does diversity factor into the museum and Pophouse?
To have been a part of ABBA The Museum across different roles throughout the years has been a truly joyful and self-developing journey in many ways. I wasn’t an ABBA fan when I started working with the museum, but I certainly am today, with great respect for their work and what their music means to so many people all over the world. I’m driven by great passion and hard work, and my main focus is making the exhibition an inspiring and welcoming place for both visitors and staff. I strongly believe in collaboration with partners, visitors, fans, etc., so we can further enhance what is already an unforgettable experience for our visitors – no matter their age, gender identity, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
What are your personal goals in your role as a Museum Director?
Given the current circumstances impacting the world, which no one could have ever imagined, my goal is to help the museum bounce back from this situation stronger than ever… And to give my team the best conditions and tools to carry out their work, so that we can create the most magical experience for our visitors.
ABBA The Museum and Pop House Hotel are conveniently part of the same building complex. After a long day at work, are you sometimes tempted to check into Pop House and stay the night?
Haha, that’s a really good question! Some time ago, we had an opening of a new exhibition with a fabulous release party. It got very late and I had scheduled some early interviews for the following day, so at that moment, it was very convenient to have a beautiful hotel like Pop House in the same building.
What’s the one thing every visitor to Stockholm needs to check out at ABBA The Museum? And what’s the one thing they need to do beyond that?
They need to have their photo taken in our photo op with ABBA in the famous cat dresses, and get up on stage to perform as the fifth member with ABBA avatars singing alongside them. And beyond ABBA The Museum, I would recommend taking a walk around the beautiful island of Djurgården, which is of course home to our museum!
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