Thursday, September 22, 2011

Open Air and Nose Museums (Lund, Sweden)

Fresh from seeing the brooding Lund Cathedral and its stunning astronomical clock, a block east is a superb collection of historic Swedish buildings over two city blocks. Kulturen was the brainchild of Georg Karlin. On seeing the death of old farming practices through mechanisation and the gradual migration of people from the rural villages to the towns and cities in the late 1800s, Karlin made a determined effort to preserve the older Swedish culture.

The result is a collection of over 30 buildings in the world’s second oldest open-air museum and a superb extended half day wandering through the pleasant virtual town of Kulturen (the map is courtesy Kulturen and like all photos can be clicked to enlarge). With the traditional class structure of the time, Karlin collected a mix of characteristic buildings, tools, clothing, furniture and artefacts representing everything from the aristocratic and religious to the burghers and peasants.

In a short stroll, a professor’s elegant house and merchant’s quarters both sit near a crofter’s turf-roofed cottage (top photo), a dean’s residence (photo) and church are only a short walk from a clog maker’s workshop. Most buildings are open inviting people to wander freely seeing the fittings and living conditions and tell their human story.

Several buildings contain fine displays and exhibitions on topics as diverse as the weights and measures of the day, fishing techniques, underwear through the ages, cultivating tools, glassware and ceramics. Various live demonstrations keep dying skills alive.

In the centre are beautifully manicured gardens also representing different ages from Viking rune stones and a medieval fragrant medicinal herb garden to sculptured French style gardens and a hedge maze.

Unsurprisingly as a town with one of the world’s most prestigious universities (and a cathedral school dating from 1085), Lund is full of museums. The most surprising collection, found within the university is the Nose Museum or Nasoteket. Yes, an entire collection dedicated to that esteemed central facial feature! Not documented in any of Lund’s tourist brochures, I lucked in to a visit with a student I met in a bar (but had no camera with me). The university collection includes over 130 plaster cast noses displayed with mirrors so that you can see the nose in profile and front-on. The collection is managed by the Nasal committee (I kid you not!) and includes peer-reviewed academic works on various attributes of noses (one article was about the nose in heraldry) and their place in history.

The science (and I use that term a little flippantly in this case) of casting noses started centuries ago to help reconstruct broken marble elements of ancient Roman and Greek statues that often lost their protruding parts over centuries of wear.

Today, prospective nose models to join the august collection are anointed by the Nasal committee, typically for excellent service to Lund and are announced at a nasifieringstillf√§llet, surprising the candidate. Most castings today are performed publicly with great fanfare. Those in the collection include notable figures such as astronomer Tycho Brahe, botanist Carl Linnaeus, former prime ministers, Sweden’s first female archbishop, authors, TV personalities and significant university people.

The Museum of Sketches (Skissernas Museum) is also highly recommended with a collection focussed on preliminary sketches and models of artworks. The museum endeavours to capture the creative process of the artist from the inception of an idea to the final product and includes four rooms covering Swedish art, Mexican art, international art and sculpture.

In the best traditions of the British university towns, Lund has a lively free spirited feeling with plenty to do for a couple of days - a chance to wander medieval streets, study a stunning astronomical clock, view a fine collection of historic Swedish buildings and enjoy an eccentric and unusual collection of noses.


Neelam Tina said...

I think Sweden is one of great travel destinations in Europe. Though not read much about Sweden, but this article has helped get some information on Sweden. Thanks for the article. Wish i could tour Europe someday soon.

Regards from India,

Mark H said...

@neelam tina: I hope that you get to Sweden and Europe one day.

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