When Ingmar Bergman died at his home on Fårö in 2007, part of his estate included four island properties. According to his will, these were to be sold on the open market, and the proceeds divided among his nine heirs. The question of how the properties were to be administered as the cultural legacy of one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema sparked off a debate that reached far beyond Sweden’s borders.
Bergman had often expressed the wish that these buildings continue to be meeting places for people working within various types of artistic fields, also after his death. His youngest daughter, the author Linn Ullmann, lived on Fårö during her father’s illness in spring of 2007. Together with her family, she moved into the house at Ängen in September of the following year, working and looking after the properties.
It was during these long and dark winter evenings on Fårö that Ullman and her writer colleague Brit Bildøen developed a plan for the possible future use of the houses – a plan that would be in keeping with the spirit of Ingmar Bergman and help to maintain Fårö as a vibrant community. The Bergman Estate was to be anything but a museum. Artists and scholars of every kind and from all over the world would come here to work, while the houses would provide an arena for public cultural events, many of them with a special view to the children and young people of Fårö and Gotland.
A busy period followed, dedicated to the effort of finding someone willing to buy the properties and realise the vision of The Bergman Estate. Time had nearly run out, when Norwegian archaeologist and inventor Hans Gude Gudesen became aware of Linn Ullmann’s plans for the properties and contacted her. In autumn of 2009, Gudesen bought back nearly all of the personal effects that had been auctioned off at Bukowskis in Stockholm, and soon after his bid for Bergman’s houses on Fårö was accepted.
Under the leadership of Linn Ullmann and Brit Bildøen, and in cooperation with a dedicated and enthusiastic Board of Directors, began the important and time-consuming work of developing and formalising what was to become The Ingmar Bergman Estate on Fårö Foundation. Kerstin Brunnberg, a Swedish journalist with extensive experience in the cultural field, was an important early supporter of this effort. Her active involvement with the Board, first as Vice-Chairperson and subsequently as Chair of the Foundation, has been decisive for the project’s progress.
In May 2010, Bergman’s furnishings and personal belongings were returned to the properties, which had been carefully and tastefully renovated by the owner. Only a few days later, The Bergman Estate on Fårö welcomed its first guests.
For more information about the Bergman Estate, read the initial project outline written by Linn Ullman.