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A garden reaching for the sky

IN this all-too-practical country with its pragmatic, stolid, sensible people, Millesgarden stands out as whimsically as a red rubber nose on a circus clown. Carl Milles, after wandering about Europe, studying, and traveling for many years, returned to his native Sweden with his Austrian wife, Olga, in 1906. He purchased this dramatic site with its granite promontory on the island of Liding"o, high above Lake V"artan overlooking Stockholm.

This was to be his home and studio, and finally museum.

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Of the 50-odd museums in Stockholm, Millesgarden is certainly the most spectacular, and one of the most popular.

To visit here is to come upon an enchanted village - a kind of Midsummer Night's Dream - occupied by allegorical and mythological creatures and spirits, born of Milles's imagination and creative hand.

Here among the pine and birch trees, nymphs cavort, horses fly, and naiads and tritons frolic among the fountains.

More than 260 works of Milles are on display.

The most impressive are the many bronze copies of his major works - most of which are found in this country and in the United States.

A colossal sculpture of a rather impish Poseidon standing contrapposto smirks down on us mere mortals as he juggles a water-spewing shark and shell.

Another fountain depicts a rather self-satisfied Europa - having found the beef - comfortably aboard an equally pleased bull, ready to gambol off and do the town.

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Milles not only touched the earth and water with his sculpture, he filled the sky.

Probably the most impressive and photogenic is the small band of angels - trumpets and flutes in hand - perched precariously on pillars silhouetted against the sky.

Nearby, Pegasus and a friend - titled ``Man and his Genius'' - defy gravity as they charge into the universe.

Included in his home and studio here are Milles's own superb collection of Greek and Roman art. Having placed his sculptures in such picturesque fashion, Milles has done anyone with a camera proud.

If you go home from here with a bad picture, there's something very wrong with your camera.

A visit to Millesgarden will fill your eye, empty your camera, and soothe your soul. It should not be missed.

If you go

Millesgarden is open year round, Tuesday through Sunday from 11 to 5 p.m. - January through April, and October through December. In May and September it opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m. During June and July on Tuesdays and Thursdays Millesgarden opens from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Buses, boats, and subways can take you to Millesgarden from the center of Stockholm.

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