The Sculpture Courtyard unfolds like an Italian piazza in the northern section of the museum. Here, you can take a break and enjoy sculptures from Nationalmuseum’s collection.
When the building was erected, it had two open courtyards in order to convey daylight into the central sections of the museum. In the 1960s the southern courtyard was turned into an auditorium, storage and exhibition hall. In 1996 the northern courtyard was encased in glass and housed the museum’s restaurant.
When the museum building was planned in the 1840s, the collection of sculptures was one of the key features. The »Big Trio« in Norse mythology, Thor, Odin and Balder confronted the visitors in the entrance hall.
A theme of the Sculpture Courtyard is how art in the 1800s changed from idealism to realism. Thor, Odin and Balder now share the space with successful men depicted as antique philosophers in togas. During the latter part of the century, people began to be depicted more realistically with modern clothes, hairstyles and blemishes.
Portraits of people who have made various civic contributions, and who have had a significant impact on the development of modern Sweden, primarily men – as a reflection of the contemporary times. Though, a portrait of the author Fredrika Bremer is a female feature of the collection. Her portrait has also become the starting point for a specific educational project at the museum on the themes of gender, portraiture and the sculptor’s work process (see film below).