The Hallwyl Museum is a House-Museum with collections of Art and Decorative Art from earlier periods. Together with the Royal Armoury and Skokloster Castle the Museum constitutes a national authority, headed by a Director General, and accountable to the Ministry of Culture. The three museums base their work on a national cultural policy resolution enacted by Swedish Parliament. The palatial looking town-house was designed by the architect Isak Gustaf Clason and built between 1893-1898 for Walther and Wilhelmina von Hallwyl. It is considered one of the most lavish private residences in Sweden from that time. In contrast to the architecture with its references to past styles, all manner of modern technology were introduced at the outset, such as central heating, electric lighting and elevators. In 1920 Walther and Wilhelmina von Hallwyl donated their home with its contents to the Swedish State. The terms of the bequest stipulated that the house must remain essentially unchanged and in 1938 it opened as a museum. Apart from Wilhelmina von Hallwyl's art collections the museum also houses the family's personal belongings and household objects and therefore also offer insight into life of an upper-class family at the end of the 19th century.
Wilhelmina von Hallwyl (1844-1930) was the heiress to a vast fortune amassed by her industrialist father Wilhelm Kempe. In 1865 she was married to the Swiss citizen Walther von Hallwyl (1839-1921). The couple settled in a country house south of Stockholm where they raised their family of four daughters. After the death of Wilhelm Kempe in 1883 they moved into the city of Stockholm since it was decided that Walther should take succeed his father-in-law as managing director for the family business. Meanwhile Wilhelmina von Hallwyl devoted much time and money to enlarge her art-collections and alongside little by little she also came to the conclusion that she wanted to have her home preserved as a museum. Her collections also became exceptionally well documented since she had every item in the house, including mundane household objects, meticulously catalogued. The catalogue, finished onl=
y in 1955, comprises 78 volumes and was printed in a limited edition of 110 copies. In 1920 the house with all its contents was bequeathed to the nation and in 1938 Hallwyl Museum opened to the public.
One of the main attractions of the Hallwyl Museum is the collection of Dutch and Flemish paintings. There are about 160 of them and they include works by several notable artists of the 16th and 17th centuries and all manner of subjects are represented. They were largely acquired through the agency of the art dealer Bukowski in Stockholm and over a period of a few years. In 1905 the attic of the house was converted into a top-lit picture gallery to accommodate the main part of the collection where it is still exposed. Apart from the Dutch and Flemish paintings the collection is very heterogeneous and includes both paintings of the French, Italian and German schools as well as family portraits and Swedish and other foreign 19th century paintings. All in all the collection contains 416 inventory numbers.