ABBA The Museum opened its doors just one week ago and, as an enormous amount of luck would have it, free admission was the most exciting add-on to a competition won by a friend of mine that included return flights to Stockholm in a private jet for him and 49 friends, two nights’ accommodation at the Clarion Sign Hotel and a complimentary VisitStockholm pass. Not bad, eh?
The museum’s slogan ‘Walk in, dance out’ couldn’t be more appropriate. This bad boy will have you laughing until you cry and begging your friends to go round again when you realise you’ve finally reached the gift shop. Shed your inhibitions at the front door and you will have more fun than you ever thought possible in a building with the word ‘museum’ in its title. What’s more, you will be belting out ABBA hits like they’re going out of fashion, which, let’s face it, they never, ever will.
What makes it so amazing?
Unlike most other museums that claim to be interactive and in reality are either broken or seriously disappointing, ABBA The Museum has gone to extremes to make your visit entertaining.
In the first room is a short video medley of some of the band’s greatest hits, just to get your feet tapping and to remind you of how many of their songs you actually know, whether you’re a die hard fan or someone who’s never even made the effort to actively listen to any of them.
For the record, I’m a Swedish pop fan through and through. My allegiances might lie with Roxette – probably because I’m a child of the 80s – but there’s more than enough room in my heart for Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Frida to coexist.
The warm up
To begin with, the museum is relatively tame. You’re introduced to each of ABBA’s members through pictures, information plaques and audio recordings. These educational points are interspersed with memorabilia, from the outfits worn by ABBA for some of their best-known appearances to musical instruments and props.
You have many chances to recreate famous album covers, from sitting in a replica of the helicopter from the album ‘Arrival’ to sharing the park bench that appeared on the sleeve of their Greatest Hits and poking your heads through a wooden cutout image of the group from their ‘ABBA Collected’ album shot.
Once you’ve let your hair down and mildly embarrassed yourself with some silly photos, the real fun begins.
First stop is a line of karaoke booths that allow you to record yourself as the fifth member of ABBA and save it, using a barcode on your ticket, to download later. Be warned that the curtains are not in any way sound proof and you will draw quite a crowd. Not to worry. This is only the beginning of your path to total humiliation.
Next up is a room where a computer snaps a photo of your face and then projects it onto each member of ABBA in turn as they attempt to follow your dance moves. Here’s how they handled my friend Bex’s David Brent/robot/Footloose-inspired routine:
We thought it would be impossible to top the experiences we’d had so far, but how wrong we were…
The next room is large and resembles a recording studio. There’s a stage with a translucent sheet of glass in front and on the stage is a microphone. As your chosen ABBA hit starts up, holograms of each of the ABBA members appear either side of you and launch into their dance routine with you as the lead solo! All of this is recorded for you to watch back, if you remember to scan your ticket before taking centre stage.
You end the tour with a stop in the Swedish Music Hall of Fame, where you can select music videos from the 1920s to the likes of Swedish House Mafia in the present day. It was surprising to discover how many well-known bands have originated in Sweden. Having said that, I can’t see any of them ever topping the hype and fame that has surrounded ABBA for almost half a decade.
‘Hasta manana ’til we meet again’, ABBA The Museum. ‘Bye bye doesn’t mean forever’.
A few tips
• A refreshingly modern approach means that you are permitted to take as many photos and videos as you like in any part of the museum. You will kick yourself if you miss the opportunity to capture your friends making total fools of themselves, so don’t forget to charge your camera batteries and free up plenty of space on your memory cards.
• Bring a functioning credit or debit card. The museum doesn’t handle any coins or bills. If you’re desperate though, you can exchange cash for prepaid cards at the Melody Hotel in the same building.
• Keep your entrance ticket safe so you can scan it whenever you take part in any of the activities, and relive the fun from home later.
• Opening hours are 8 am to 10 pm daily. You will probably need a few hours to really make the most of it, especially if it’s busy.
• Tickets cost SEK 195, which is about £20. It sounds steep, but I guarantee you’ll have more fun than in any museum you’ve ever been before.
• For more information and to download your interactive videos, visit abbathemuseum.com