Stockholm’s Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities (in Swedish: Medelhavsmuseet, which is the name above the door and clearly a much more economical name than Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities) is in an orangey-coloured, fairly nondescript building with an arched, stone entrance on a relatively nondescript street, kitty-corner to an intersection of streets with wide sidewalks and near a somewhat cutoff (by the encircling streets), little-used (at least, little-used when I was there) small, circle-shaped city “square” with a statue of an unknown (unknown to me, but someone probably knows who it’s a statue of) on horseback.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve written a horribly long, ridiculously convoluted run-on sentence. I filled my quota with the first sentence of this post. OK. I admit it. Once I saw that it was inadvertently turning into a run-on sentence I worked to exaggerate it’s lengthy, meandering nature rather than fix it because I’m evil that way. Sorry about that.
The Mediterranean Museum is smallish, the majority of it being on the first floor of the building.
There is also a small exhibit space in the basement. More on that later.
There is a café on the second floor. A temporary exhibit of photographs from an archaeological expedition was located by the café, but I don’t know if there is normally anything displayed up there.
I don’t know what was a permanent versus a temporary or rotating display in the rest of the museum, but when I was there the main exhibit area housed a display of Bronze Age pottery from Cyprus, a bunch of stone statues of people (both full bodies and just heads), and a large collection of terra cotta figures that were tightly grouped together in a large display case. The terra cotta figures display was entirely behind glass that cast a lot of reflections, making it difficult to fully appreciate the figures.
The Gold Room
The walking tour app I was using told me that, as an added treat, I shouldn’t miss the gold room. It’s a good thing it told me. The gold room is tucked away at the back-right corner of the main floor. I likely would have missed it if I hadn’t been warned to look for it.
To be honest, for my tastes, if I missed the gold room it wouldn’t have been such a great loss. It’s a tiny room containing some gold pieces. When I say tiny I mean that if you are prone to claustrophobia you might want to just look in from the doorway. That won’t leave you all that far from most of the pieces.
Most of the pieces in the gold room were jewelry, but there was also one gold jug that dated from before 2100 BC.
In my mind, I have an image of opulent gold artifacts as being bright and shiny. For the most part, that’s not what these pieces were. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to think of them as opulent. They were generally kind of dull.
Could they not afford a little gold polish and some staff to apply it? Or would that have destroyed the artifacts’ historical value?
Other Tucked-Away Rooms
There were also a couple of rooms at the back-left of the main floor of the museum that would have also been easy to miss if I didn’t have an exploring nature. I don’t have an exploring nature, but I found them anyway. Sometimes I get lucky, but rarely in a good way.
Knowing that I would be writing this post, I spent a little time trying to see if there was anything I had inadvertently overlooked, but I can’t help wondering if I missed other rooms. Curse my non-exploring nature.
In those rooms at the back-left of the main floor I found Egyptian pottery from 4000 to 3500 BC, along with some other finds from even earlier.
There are some rooms downstairs that were also easy to miss. These contained mummies and other artifacts and descriptive texts focused on burial practices and afterlife beliefs from ancient times in the Mediterranean area.
If I’m correct about such things, the former people, now mummies no longer have beliefs about the afterlife, or anything else for that matter. On the other hand, as I understand it, the folks who got mummified back in ancient Egypt were Pharaohs and lesser potentates who lived rather charmed lives thanks to their subjects and slaves, so I don’t feel particularly sympathetic about the injustice of their current non-living molecular state.
Their mummified remains now entertain the curiosities of plebeian tourists like me. So much for the afterlife.
All-in-all, the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities had a decent-sized ancient-Egypt display, although by no means huge compared to some other museums. Then again, the whole museum is kind of small so the laws of physics limit the number of pieces of its Egyptian collection it can put on display, regardless of how many it may own.