The Swedish foursome shot to international fame back in 1974, when their song Waterloo won the Eurovision Song Contest. Since that eventful evening, they have gone on to sing some of pop’s most loved and enduring tunes, such as Dancing Queen, Money, Money, Money, Super Trooper and of course, Happy New Year. In recognition of the group’s fame, and contribution to pop music, Sweden are opening an interactive museum, dedicated to the group, which will feature their iconic costumes, 70’s memorabilia and holographic images.
Abba members are Björn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson, and the museum curator, Mattias Hansson said that all four members are behind the enormous project. Hansson said: “Obviously, from a Swedish state point of view it should have already been around for many years, because it’s one of the most famous Swedish brands ever. We know from the tourism office in Stockholm that each and every year they receive thousands of questions from tourists about where to go to see something about Abba, and for years they have been forced to say, ‘nowhere’.”
Abba The Museum will open on May 7, 2013, and is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of Abba fans to pay their respects and to celebrate the Swedish pop group. Abba’s Björn Ulvaeus spoke about the group’s initial hesitation at the museum when it was first proposed to them. “We weren’t entirely sure if there was going to be one, whether we wanted one – to become artefacts and relics while we are still alive,” but, he added: “I realised someone had to take the full responsibility and it gradually dawned on me that I was the one.”
And Ulvaeus liked the idea so much that he put his money where his mouth is and is now the project’s main backer, having taken a majority financial stake in December by buying shares from the three main investors – Universal Music, Live Nation, and Parks & Resorts Scandinavia. And Hansson is more than happy with his involvement, saying that is has made all the difference. “For certain, Björn Ulvaeus is the brightest creative mind I’ve ever been in the same room with.” The museum is going to be an interactive one, with the two men trying to make it as user friendly as possible. Everyone that visits will be given an Abba ID with their ticket; this then generates a page on the museum’s website when they enter the building. Everything they do inside will be recorded, from singing on the holographic stage to entering a booth where Abba costumes will be projected on to them. They can then upload all this information to any social media site, including Facebook or Twitter.
Cost of entry is a very reasonable 195 Swedish kronor (£18.50), and Hansson believes this is good value for money. “Given the experience we will provide, it’s a pretty fair price.”
There was a previous plan to build an Abba museum in Stockholm in 2006, but this failed when the main financier, Iceland’s Kaupthing Bank, collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis. This time around, all four members have been keen to get involved, and this includes the reclusive Anni-Frid Lyngstad, who lives a quiet life in Switzerland with her husband, who is heir to the WH Smith chain. She has cleaned out her closet, according to Hansson,and donated many of her old costumes and memorabilia to the museum. Hansson says: “In some way, all four of them will give each and every visitor an extraordinary take on the history of Abba. They’ve all been filmed and interviewed for the exhibition.”
The interviews will follow the band members love lives and marriages and their break ups. “There’s a built-in Romeo and Juliet thing here, with four individuals who all had their own careers, then became lovers and then won the Eurovision song contest,” said Hansson. “It’s a 10-year saga which you can follow from the first love affairs to the bitter end.”
So might the band regroup for the museum’s opening? Hansson is not sure: “I will be wondering about that until 10 minutes before the opening ceremony, because they don’t usually do things together… But I cross my fingers.”