Moderna Museet, Sweden’s main state museum for modern and contemporary art, houses a world class collection of 20th- and 21st-century art, including works by Dali, Matisse, and Picasso.
Music at Moderna Museet
Under the leadership of Pontus Hultén in the 1960s, it became one of the world's most dynamic contemporary art institutions, arranging Andy Warhol’s first retrospective exhibition.
We met Event Coordinator Mats Björndal to ask how he makes music a part of the mix.
Tell us about Moderna Museet.
– We have one of the world’s largest photography collections and an impressive amount of paintings and sculptures. It’s amazing we have this much artwork in a country of our size.
What do you do besides showing your large permanent collection and exhibitions?
– We work with schools and arrange workshops for children and teenagers. We also have our restaurant and cafe business, and organize events.
Museums are typically quiet places. How do you use music as part of the experience?
– We have the Moderna Bar, which plays music of different musical themes. Now that we have Spotify Business, we plan to use music more actively in other areas. We have a sound system set up for the area outside the museum, and we may add one to the foyer to set the tone of Moderna the second you enter the building.
”It’s great to support artists more!”
Do you use music for openings or exhibitions?
– Yes. Music can set an atmosphere, and we’ve worked with music curators in the past. At last year’s opening for Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco, the curator advised us not to play only Mexican music. Orozco is more of an artist of the world, and the playlist we ended up with was mostly jazz. It was the first time we did this, and it fit perfectly for that night.
– For the exhibitions, many things needs to be considered. Some pieces of our collection include music as a part or the whole of the artwork. However, it’s difficult to find the right balance when adding music to an artwork whose artist is no longer with us. We haven’t figured out the right approach yet. Getting started is a good step towards working out the right sound of your venue.
What have you learned?
– We spent a lot of effort in creating perfect playlists for our opening evenings. To make sure the music suits the evening and the current exhibition, we always ask our DJs to consider these aspects when they prepare soundtracks. We try to explain the essence of the artist’s work, hoping it will come through in their sets.
Moderna Museet blends the worlds of art and music, and has invited musicians such as Brian Eno, Kim Gordon and Patti Smith to talk about their work, while also hosting exhibitions by Yoko Ono and Kraftwerk. Was fair compensation to musicians a factor when you signed up for Spotify Business?
– We found out about that later but yes, it’s great to support artists appropriately. We are backed by the public and the government and have standards to keep. We want to do things right.
What’s your best tip for businesses starting out with Spotify Business?
Don’t worry too much about not having a plan for your music when you begin. It’s about getting started, trying and testing as you go. You’ll find out what works for your business along the way. And remember that just as music can enhance an experience, stepping into a silent area can be just as striking.