The Zorn Collections

Anders and Emma Zorn donated all their assets to the Swedish state. Officially called the Zorn Collections, it includes more than 60 buildings and approximately 20,000 art objects: everything from Zorn’s own works to historical Dalarna paintings, tapestries, silverware and etchings by Rembrandt. Essentially the Zorn Collections can be divided into four parts: Zorn Museum, Zorn House, Zorn’s Gammelgård and Gopsmor. The Textile Room, alongside Zorn’s Gammelgård, was added in 1995. Anders and Emma Zorn also bequeathed a substantial capital sum. Called the Zorn Fund, it is administered by Uppsala University.

History

In 1896, Anders and Emma Zorn moved permanently to Mora. Zorn had already bought a plot of land alongside Mora church, some 10 years earlier and he now moved a small wooden cottage from his maternal grandfather’s farm to the new property. This became the core of the couple’s home, Zorn House. Over the years, extensions were made to the cottage at various stages, the work continued until 1910. The artist himself designed the building’s layout. Zorn House shows an unconventional mix of local timber architecture, the artist’s own notions of dwellings in the Viking era and English residential architecture. The building’s most remarkable room is the spectacular nine-metre-high hall on the second floor. The house also has a garden, laid in the 1910s.

Zorn’s interest in timber architecture and his efforts to preserve the architectural heritage of the region around Lake Siljan meant he began acquiring old cottages, barns and other traditional buildings. In 1914, he made plans for an open-air museum. The work was completed after his death by art historian and first director of the Zorn Collections, Gerda Boëthius. Today Zorn’s Gammelgård, as it came to be known, contains 40 timber buildings, grouped as a village, spring/autumn huts, a mill, summer huts and several boathouses. In order to live like an olden-day farmer, Zorn purchased some land north of Mora, near Dalälven in 1904, from his mother’s brother Per, and moved several historical timber buildings to this property, the oldest dating from 1324–25. Known as Gopsmor, it became something of a refuge for the artist, both as a studio in the backwoods and as an angler’s cottage, a place where he sought peace. Here he lived “in the style of his forefathers” enjoying simple food and without the modern comforts of Zorn House.

Zorn usually tried to stay at Gopsmor at least twice a year: once in January and again around Midsummer. Sometimes he invited artist friends, including Bruno Liljefors and Albert Engström. At Gopsmor he had plenty of time for his painting. Female nudes by firelight was a recurrent theme, so too girls skiing. In 1970, when the Dalälven was dammed as part of the Spjutmo hydro-electric project, Zorn’s collection of buildings was moved from its original position as this was to be flooded as part of the scheme. However, it proved possible to find a very similar place and Gopsmor was reconstructed here.

Zorn’s passion for collecting took many forms and covered vastly different areas. Eventually, he began considering a museum where the collections could be shown. These plans were realised posthumously by Emma Zorn, assisted by Gerda Boëthius. The Zorn Museum in Mora was completed 1939, designed by Ragnar Östberg, best known as the architect of Stockholm City Hall. The Zorn Museum was Östberg’s final work. An addition to the classical brick building was made in 1982 with a glass-enclosed stairwell on the western side, designed by architect SAR Torbjörn Olsson. In 1996, the museum was further enlarged with an angled extension housing a reception, library and offices. This was designed by architect SAR Gunnar Nordström.