The Rackstad Colony
The activities of Rackstad Museum have their origin in the artist Christian Eriksson, who grew up in Taserud, where his father ran a small farm and furniture business. Christian travelled around as "journeyman" in order to improve his skills in furniture making, but was led by artist friends in Paris into a life of art.
The Rackstad colony was a group of friends, all artists – Gustav Fjæstad (1868-1948) and Maja Fjæstad (1873-1961), Bjorn Ahlgrensson (1872-1918) and Fritz Lindström (1874-1962) and others, who were active in the area around the turn of the century (1900). In 1898 Gustaf and Maja Fjæstad rented Christian Eriksson's studio house ‘Oppstuhage’. Later they moved to Kampudden by Lake Racken, where they built their own house and studios. Maja, as well as being a talented painter and graphic artist, was also a good textile artist. She was part of the group of strong enthusiasts who started Sweden’s oldest craft shop, Arvika Handicrafts in 1922.
After Gustav and Maja came Björn Ahlgrensson with his wife Elsa to Arvika. They settled in Perserud by Lake Racken. A few years later Fritz Lindström moved to the neighbourhood. These artists, together with some local painters such as Alfred Ekstam, Bror Sahlström, Ture Ander (1881-1959) and Bror Lindh (1877-1941) are the backbone of the group of artists known as the Rackstad colony.
The driving force for young artists of the time was a nationalistic romantic longing for nature and the environment and costumes of country folk, as well as a search for light, darkness and sadness. Another important reason for living in a rural area was the opportunity for cheap accommodation and access to food. Rackstad museum combines local art history and craftsmanship with contemporary art and crafts, locally, nationally and internationally.
Around Lake Racken
The artists who gathered around Christian Eriksson’s home in Taserud later moved to their own homes that lay around Lake Racken. The lake is located a few kilometres north of Taserud on the way towards Gunnarskog. Gustaf and Maja Fjæstad built their house and studio at Kampudden. Björn and Elsa Ahlgrensson rented a house in Perserud. Fritz Lindström lived for a time in Rackstad.
History in Brief
The idea of creating a museum around the Rackstad Colony, the group of artists who at the turn of the century (1900) settled round Lake Racken outside Arvika, had already been raised by the group's central figure, Gustaf Fjæstad (1868-1948). But the idea first became more definite in the mid-1980s, when it was raised by, among others, radio personality Per Eric Nordquist and Rackstad Museum’s future chief Per Inge Fridlund. In 1987 the non-profit association Rackstad Museum was founded with Nordquist as the first chairman of an interim board. Through membership recruitment and sponsorship hunting, and also with artistic galas and auctions, funds began to accumulate for the new museum.
The museum’s creation dragged on, however; one reason being differences of opinion about where the museum should be located. Should it be in the town, next to Lake Racken or (where the museum finally came to be built) near Christian Eriksson's parents’ farm Haget and Oppstuhage?
In the spring of 1988 Arvika council announced an architectural competition. Arvika-born Rune Falk from White Architects in Gothenburg won the competition. His long exhibition hall connects to the old farm house at Haget through an open glass walkway.
Rune Falk's architecture is characterized by "order, ease, clarity" and simultaneous clear and soft light transmission. The architect was assisted with the colour work, by the artist-brothers Olle and Jörgen Zetterquist and art teacher Irene Heine.
In 1993 Rackstad Museum was opened with due pomp and circumstance. Five years later, there was an extension with a parallel exhibition hall against a rise of trees, behind the first hall. In connection with this extension it was necessary to demolish the old cowshed (klabbelagårn) that was originally on this forest rise. The foundation stones from this building have been relaid elsewhere in the park, with the same dimensions as a memory of the old barn. The wonderful fruit garden and park surrounding the museum is an authentic setting while being reminiscent of the site’s history.
The non-profit Rackstad Museum Association still runs operations at Rackstad Museum but Arvika Council bought the property on January 1st, 2012, which means that the Association and Museum are tenants of the Council.
Christian Eriksson designed and built his home and studio in the mid-1890s, while living in Paris. He wanted to move back home to Taserud with his French wife Jeanne Tramcourt. The house was completed in 1896 and is filled with beautiful details completely in keeping with the spirit of the times.
Christian had good help from his brothers in the carpenter’s shop in Taserud. His friend Petter Andersson at Myra made the beautiful forged handles and other fittings.
The family lived a few years in the house, but his most important clients were elsewhere in the country, including in Stockholm. It eventually became necessary for him to move to the capital.
The studio was rented to the artist couple Gustaf and Maja Fjaestad, who came as newly-weds to Oppstuhage in the summer of 1898. Over the years, more artists came to live in the house, among them Björn Ahlgrensson with wife Elsa, and Fritz Lindström with his first wife Anna and two children.
Christian eventually sold Oppstuhage to a relative and Arvika Council bought the farm in 1946. In 1951 it was declared a building of historical and cultural interest. During 1994-1995 Oppstuhage was restored as closely as possible to its original condition.
Adjacent to Oppstuhage, in the 1920s, Christian had a summer studio built. The framework of the house came from an older nail smithy. From the outside it is a red painted wooden house with a mansard roof in traditional style. Indoors there is a light and functional studio and facilities for rest or sleeping. The house is open to visitors on certain days during the summer season.
The museum's collections include art and craft works, furniture, textiles, ceramics, wrought iron and glass that are related to the Rackstad Colony and its activities in the area around Arvika.
The collection also includes contemporary art and craft works present in connection with exhibitions at the museum.
The collections expand as we get donations, or the opportunity to make new purchases. Then the provenance of our paintings and objects is very important – information about who created the work, the buyers or owners, where the object came from, how it was used and so on.
The museum's art and craft works are stored in warehouses where researchers can browse. Documentation includes photos, articles, and written works. This is kept in both files and database. Researchers are urged to make an appointment for guidance.
Our library contains literature related to the Arts & Crafts movement, art, craft work and the culture of Värmland. By all means stop for a while, choose a book and sit down for a relaxing break.
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Main sponsor for Rackstad Museum is Westra Wermlands Sparbank
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