Abba permanent exhibit opens in Stockholm
Long-awaited, interactive exhibit encourages fan experiences
Abba fever has struck Stockholm anew, as a long-awaited museum exhibit devoted to the Swedish pop legends and featuring a host of interactive exhibits officially opens its doors in the city centre.
The heart of the new Swedish Music Hall of Fame, the permanent Abba exhibit offers an immersive and nostalgic experience into the lives of the pop quartet — an international phenomenon that sold 400 million records and racked up myriad hits during its heyday from the mid-1970s through the early 1980s.
Abba member Bjorn Ulvaeus has helped keep the group in the spotlight in recent decades, including by serving as a producer on the wildly successful musical Mamma Mia and his work on the museum exhibit, which is based on a show that opened in London in 2009 and travelled to international locations.
Though Ulvaeus admitted to initially worrying that an Abba museum would turn the 1974 Eurovision song contest-winning group into "artifacts and relics," he soon changed his mind.
"You need some distance, you need perspective to be able to tell a story like that and I guess you can say that we have perspective now, 30 years on," Ulvaeus told reporters at a press preview Monday.
Visitors can sing, dance, pose like Abba
Gold and platinum records, a flurry of archival documents, audio interviews with each member, a range of eclectic paraphernalia and the shimmering costumes worn by Ulvaeus and bandmates Anni Frid Lyngstad, Benny Andersson and Agnetha Faltskog are just the beginning.
Visitors can venture into re-created sets, including the band's kitchen, the cabin where they composed their songs, the park spaces where Ulvaeus and Andersson first met and the group's recording studio. The latter features a player piano connected to one in Andersson's current music studio so that when he plays his, the museum's also plays along.
Brave fans can get a taste of performance: "auditioning" to be a fifth member of the band by singing hits such as Dancing Queen or Mamma Mia, karaoke-style, alongside holograms of the band (footage of which can be downloaded). Those so inclined can practice disco-era moves on a 1970s-era dance floor or sit inside the bubble-like chopper featured on the cover of the 1976 Abba album Arrival.
The rare museumgoer might even have a chance to chat with Abba via a special telephone — inspired by the track Ring, Ring — that's been installed in one corner of the museum. Only the four band members have the number for the phone and each has pledged to call it occasionally to chat with visitors.
Reunion rumours squashed
The display also explores the days when the group — comprising two married couples who eventually divorced — drifted apart and formally disbanded.
On Monday, Ulvaeus rejected rumours that the quartet is planning to reunite for the opening — news that likely dismayed the scores of fans who had gathered outside the museum to glimpse the red-carpet attendees of an opening gala dinner.
"As you all know we have never reunited," he told media. "So I take this opportunity to say now we are not going to either."
With the new Abba addition, the museum is expected to draw thousands of visitors a year.