An Abba museum set for the Stockholm harbor–one where visitors could dance on stage with Abba holograms, ooh and ahh at replicas of the band’s dressing rooms, and engage in the always-crucial act of performing Abba karaoke–has been put on permanent hold, thanks to a real-estate dispute over the building where the museum was supposed to reside. The exhibit will probably turn into a traveling one, since the couple who conceived of the museum in the first place sold their rights to the Swedish pop titans’ likenesses to a Swedish event promoter. But it won’t be the same!
In 2006 the couple launched the project and began collecting stage costumes, platform shoes, gold records, childhood scrapbooks and first musical instruments — “all the stuff hidden in their cellars,” Ms. Wigenheim-Westman said. “It was Abba’s cultural treasure.”
Last August the memorabilia was stored in a secret location and an opening date was set. But plans to turn Stockholm’s former Customs House into a museum collapsed after the cost of the refurbishment, initially set at 235 million krona, or about €21 million, escalated.
At one point the Port of Stockholm, which was responsible for the cost of the renovation, presented the museum’ s organizers with a bill for an additional 50 million krona.
“Even if we had the money,” Mr. Westman said, “we could never defend paying it. That is more than the total budget for the project.”
It was, he added “very, very, unprofessional.”
But Christel Wiman, who runs the Port of Stockholm, said that the additional money was required for work to meet the museum’s specifications, above and beyond the refurbishment.
Ultimately, the contract was canceled; so was the launch. And the organizers had to refund the cost of tickets to 3,000 fans.
The founders sold the rights (for a sum neither side will discuss) to Mr. Danielsson’s company, which has financial backing from Polar Music, Abba’s record label, a part of Universal Music. “It’s a pity for Stockholm,” Mr. Westman said, “because this should have been a big asset.”
Danielsson is promising that he’ll build “one of the biggest tourist attractions in Sweden,” but that remains to be seen. It better have a “dress yourself up in Abba’s clothes via the power of holographic imagery,” is all I’m saying.
(BTW, a much better headline for this piece that I didn’t think up: “Abba Museum Finally Faces Its Waterloo.” Right? Right??