There aren’t many twenty-eight-year-olds who have a whole museum dedicated to them. You’ll find one now in Stockholm. The same team that brought you the city’s swell ABBA The Museum has curated the new Avicii Experience, a high-tech, interactive homage to the late Tim Bergling, who under his moniker Avicii was the premier EDM (electronic dance music) maestro of his age. The 3,800-square-foot museum was inaugurated in late winter by Sweden’s Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia.
Even if you’re not an EDM aficionado, or a habitué of its famous party sites like Ibiza, you’ve likely heard Avicii’s early-2010s hits “Levels” and “Hey Brother,” or his later “Wake Me Up,” with vocals by Aloe Blacc. You’ll surely recall the tragic reports in 2018 when the young DJ took his life in Oman.
Logically, the Avicii Experience exhibit starts with the budding DJ/producer Tim’s teenage years in the upscale Stockholm district of Östermalm. From snuff tins to his own art work and his original World of Warcraft avatar, it’s oddly touching to see a recreation of the modest bedroom and of every intimate detail of what preoccupied a Nordic teen in the 90s. An acoustic guitar propped on its stand represents the influence of Bergling’s musically-minded father Klas who conceived of the exhibition in the first place.
Moving on to the artistic development of the eventual hitmaker Avicii, the exhibit leads guests through his early rudimentary basement Earfile Studio that he shared with his partner Ash and on to his later home studio on the famous Blue Jay Way above Sunset Strip, with its grand piano and panoramic sunset view from the Hollywood Hills. Along the way, visitors discover the extent to which Avicii, who used real instruments, was considered a true composer by his peers in a genre which casual listeners might assume involves mostly technical skills.
To say the Avicii Experience is an immersive museum is an understatement. How about trying some VR karaoke to the Avicii songs “Without You,” “Wake Me Up” and “Broken Arrows.” Just put on the headset to join collaborators Sandro Cavazza, Aloe Blacc and Carl Falk to croon the lyrics to each piece. No need to be shy—the booth is soundproof. You can try your hand at remixing as well.
The Avicii Experience is neither a sappy eulogy or overdone fan worship temple, nor an overly technical take on the nuts and bolts of album producing. For all its high-tech displays, including a room of 360-degree LED screens showing nonstop footage from Stockholm’s 2019 Avicii Tribute Concert, the exhibit includes a small room with copies of the philosophical books, particularly on Buddhism, that helped keep the introverted artist grounded. As happens with many creative types thrust into the gobal limelight, the real Tim Bergling was not predisposed toward handling well the stresses of fame nor constant touring.
Founded by the Bergling family, the Tim Bergling Foundation addresses mental health and suicide prevention among young people, as well as climate change, global hunger and wildlife conservation among issues which concerned Tim. The foundation also builds music studios for youth in need, while proceeds from the gift shop go toward the foundation.
ABBA experts will recognize Ingmarie Halling who was a majordomo of sorts for the superstar band, from makeup artist and costume assistant to traveling companion. Today, she is a force behind and curator of ABBA The Museum as well as a major influence on the Avicii Experience, while her daughter Lisa Halling-Aadland is content producer for the new exhibit.
The two museums differ in that the Avicii source material is of course contemporary and more high-tech than that of ABBA’s era, while in the ten years since the ABBA museum opened a further growth in technology has also allowed for a dynamic EDM-adrenaline-pumping Avicii Experience (a cautionary notice is even posted at one point for those who are prone to physical reactions from too much stimuli).
Vis-à-vis the House of Culture on Sergels torg, central Stockholm’s enormous 1960s sunken pedestrian plaza with an even more enormous underground shopping mall, the Avicii Experience is easily reached via the T-Centralen and Hötorget metro stations.
The exhibition space is inside of the new digital cultural center called, well, Space, billed at more than 80,000 square feet as the world’s largest and most state of the art gaming center that fills several floors and the former rock club basement of one of Stockholm’s five iconic Modernist Hötorget buildings. Space prides itself on inclusivity toward a more diverse set of gamers and accessibility for the disabled. Among all kinds of amenties at Space, Fat Cat is a brasserie serving Japanese and Korean cuisine.
The Avicii Experience is a reminder of how Sweden has long been in the forefront of both music production and digital technology (Spotify is Swedish, after all), and one hardly needs to have been an Avicii aficionado to experience what is rightly labeled an Experience.
It’s all a far cry from the origin story of Tim Bergling, who no matter how a humble a sort he was, now posthumously has the city’s Avicii Arena named after him.