Stockholm Army Museum

It’s hard to imagine 600 years of history and artifacts all gathered in one historic building, but that’s exactly what you get when you visit the Swedish Army Museum in Stockholm, Sweden. The visit begins outdoors with the artillery storage unit, a regal three-story structure from the 1600s. Lawn ornaments, as you might expect, are tanks and canons.

History of the Swedish Army Museum in Stockholm

Our visit to Stockholm’s Army Museum was just one stop on a two-week tour of many World War II historic places and museums in Europe. Sweden was, however, the last country we visited and the one where we had the most time to explore.

The Army Museum has been located at Artillerigården in Östermalm, Stockholm, since it was opened in 1879. The current buildings were used prior to that for military purposes. Its first major renovations were in the early 1940s.

While the museum’s current layout was set up in the 1990s, the displays were renovated and completed in 2013 and 2014. So, there are some pretty amazing dioramas and re-creations of historic battles. It’s so much more than a collection of artifacts!

By July, when we visited, the summer heat had warmed the old building a lot, so we didn’t spend as much time as I’d have liked.

Exhibits from 1520 to 1900

Our exploration started on the museum’s third floor, which covers the military history of the 16th to 19th centuries. Separated by period, the displays make it easy to learn about Sweden’s history.

In 1700 three regents declared war on the Swedish Empire – Peter the Great of Russia, Frederick IV of Denmark, and Augustus II the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. The cavalry was the main weapon of Charles XII, the seventeen-year-old Swedish king. His strategy consisted of 125 cavalry riders forming a squadron, riding in three ranks with their swords drawn, hitting the enemy ranks as a massive wedge.
PHOTOGRAPH BY Linda Aksomitis

Each display narrates a specific part of Sweden’s history: Expansion (1520 – 1660), Attack to Defense (1660 – 1700), Great Northern War (1700 – 1721), Age of Liberty Begins (1718 – 1743), Napoleonic Wars (1743 – 1815) and Peaceful Fields (1815 – 1900).

I must admit to a long-standing passion for anything related to knights and armor and castles, so it was great to find these pieces of armor. We didn’t get to the coastline to see any of Sweden’s fortifications, though, so have to save that for the next visit.

Unfortunately for those who ended up “riding the wooden horse” instead of wearing armor, there were no rewards. This punishment, pictured below, was given for plundering or other crimes committed against civilians. The worse the crime, the longer the time! Riding the wooden horse was abolished with the law reform of 1734.

Riding the wooden horse – a form of punishment in early Europe.
PHOTOGRAPH BY Linda Aksomitis

Warfare, of course, changed along with technology. While we started using cannons in the 12th century, by the 1800s they were bigger and heavier and shot their cannonballs much further. Below is a scene from the 1800s.

During the 1808 – 1809 Finnish War between Russia and Sweden, tens of thousands of young men were forced to join the army alongside the trained soldiers. A fifth of them died, even though the groups saw few large battles.
PHOTOGRAPH BY Photographer Name

During the 1808 – 1809 Finnish War between Russia and Sweden, tens of thousands of young men were forced to join the army alongside the trained soldiers. A fifth of them died, even though the groups saw few large battles.

Second Floor Displays

The second floor of the Army Museum covered the modern period that we were more familiar with. Although we’d visited many World War II sites, we found lots of additional information here.

I always find it interesting to see the change in uniforms over time. While styles may be similar, the fabrics and way they’re constructed certainly varies as you can see in this Swedish collection.

Uniforms in the Army Museum in Stockholm.
PHOTOGRAPH BY Linda Aksomitis

Gas Masks and More

Lethal gases were first used in warfare during World War I by the French army. They used 26 mm grenades filled with tear gas (ethyl bromoacetate) in August of 1914. So, gas masks were soon developed to try to protect soldiers from its effects.

In North America, of course, only soldiers actually dispatched to other locations around the world experienced wearing gas masks. So, I never really thought about how a parent would get a child to keep one on until we saw this gas mask for children. It’s from the 1970s, when they came up with a solution of an integrated suit pulled over the head, that was specially adapted for 4 and 5 year-olds.

This Type 36 integrated suit from the 1970s pulled on over the head of children aged 4 to 5.
PHOTOGRAPH BY Linda Aksomitis

One thing that really surprised me was seeing a display dedicated to Hungary during the Second World War. Since the current historical fiction I’m working on is set in Hungary, post WWII, it was a great addition to my research.

Near the end of this floor’s displays, which went right through to the Cold War and modern weapons, we came to this fascinating reconnaissance craft developed to spot enemy troop and armored units. Unmanned, the “eye in the sky” could be used during day or night to take photos. The craft was operated in Karlsborg from the 1990s, and last flew in 2010. It’s named Ugglan, or the Owl.

Ugglan (the Owl) is an unmanned aircraft tested in the 1990s and flown until September, 2010. It has sophisticated cameras that can be used day and night. It didn’t carry any weapons.
PHOTOGRAPH BY Linda Aksomitis

First Floor Temporary Exhibitions and Artillery

The first floor houses the artillery and temporary exhibitions, which when we were there was a tribute to women in World War II titled “Knitting Peace.”

The main floor visiting exhibit area has lovely architecture.
PHOTOGRAPH BY Linda Aksomitis

The high ceilings and arches give this area a rich feel of history. And, of course, the area is a lot cooler than the higher floors.

Visit the Army Museum in Stockholm

The museum is located at Riddargatan 13, 114 51 Stockholm. It was a short walk from a stop on the hop-on, hop-off canal boat tour.

Visit the Army Museum on the Web.

Check the admissions page for the latest fees and promotional times. Note that all of the exhibits have an English translation as well as Swedish, so it’s easy to follow.

*    *    *

Linda Aksomitis

Linda Aksomitis has published 35+ books, many of them historical fiction and nonfiction, as well as a few thousand articles in newspapers and on blogs. Much of her research is done visiting museums and historic sites. She has a masters degree in education, with a specialization as a teacher-librarian. Find her online at and and on Facebook at