The Nordiska Museet, Sweden's national museum of cultural history, was the brainchild of Artur Hazelius, who also created Skansen. Everything about the place is big: the building itself, designed by Isak Clason and completed in 1907, is massive, though only a quarter of the originally intended size. On entering the aptly named Great Hall visitors are greeted by Carl Milles' colossal pink statue of a seated Gustav Vasa. (In his forehead is a chunk of oak from a tree planted by the king himself, so legend has it.) The museum's collection of artefacts is immense. Permanent exhibitions include Swedish traditions, manners and customs, fashion and folk costumes, re-created table settings from the 16th to the 20th centuries, and the Sami people. There are also marvellously detailed doll's houses and a collection of doom-laden paintings and photos by Strindberg that do nothing to dispel his madman image. The Textile Gallery features 500 textiles, hidden from sunlight in birch cabinets, dating from the 1600s onwards. The museum is quite old-fashioned in presentation, but no less fascinating for that.
In the Lekstugan ('Playhouse'), you can travel back in time to 1895 in a vivid re-creation of life in the Swedish countryside. Kids over five can try their hand at different occupations at the farm cottage, the mill, the stable and the general store. They can touch and use all the exhibits, including antique objects. The museum is recommended for children aged five to 12, and they must be accompanied by an adult; other rules are clearly signposted in Swedish and English.