Skeppsholmen (= Ships’ Island, Swedish pronunciation “shepps-holl-men”) is a smallish (0.8 km x 0.5 km, area 16.3 ha), but quite conspicuous built-up island in the salt-water (Baltic sea) part of central Stockholm. Its geographical co-ordinates are 59.326° N, 18.084° E.
Island of culture
Skeppsholmen houses a fair number of the most important cultural institutions of Stockholm and of Sweden – Moderna Muséet (the Museum of Modern Art), Arkitekturmuséet (the Museum of Architecture), Konsthögskolan (the Art Academy), and Kulturrådet, (the Swedish Cultural Council), among others. Stockholm Jazz Festival has been celebrated on Skeppsholmen since 1980 and the island is venue to many other concerts and cultural activities.
Identification by three masts
Skeppsholmen lies about half way between the Old Town (Gamla Stan) island and the Djurgården (Skansen) island. When standing in the Old Town, next to the Royal Palace, Skeppsholmen is quite easily identified by the tall, white 3-masted sailing ship across the water, the af Chapman, which is permanently moored to the western shore of the island.
To the north a bridge connects Skeppsholmen to Blasieholmen (the site of Nationalmuseum, Grand Hotel), the Kungsträdgården park, the Opera House and the downtown Stockholm business district. From Skeppsholmen’s southern tip another bridge connects to an even smaller, rather romantic-looking island, Kastellholmen (Castle Island).
Rafael Moneo and mildew
A couple of centuries ago Skeppsholmen was called Amiralitetsholmen (Admiralty Island), which points to the reason for its present name of “Ships’ Island” – for more than 300 years it used to be the central facility of the Royal Swedish Navy.
When the Navy moved out in 1968, cultural institutions moved into the naval buildings. Later new structures have been erected as well. The most noteworthy of these is the new building for the Museum of Modern Art (Moderna Muséet), designed by the famous Spanish architect Rafael Moneo. In spite of the fame of the architect, the walls and floors of the museum building became almost instantly infected by mildew. After an extensive disinfection and rebuilding program, lasting several years, the museum is scheduled to re-open in 2004.