Together this exciting mix of cobbled streets, expansive parks, and numerous waterways also lend the Swedish capital an enviable canvas upon which public and private art spaces have materialized in abundance, both outdoors and indoors. Often considered a pilgrim site for the design-conscious—and rightly so—what better way to explore this city’s creative highlights than through an art crawl? From the city center to Stockholm’s lesser known outer echelons, this lap around the capital’s most intriguing stops not only reveals a treasure trove of work, but also shines a light on the ever-evolving districts that give this city its unique flavor.
Located right in the center of Stockholm, Skeppsholmen is the city’s smallest and greenest island. It’s also known as "museum island", thanks to Moderna Museet, the East-Asian Museum, and the National Muesum, amongst others, being located here. It’s the Moderna Museet that steals the show however, with a permanent collection that boasts pieces by prominent artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, such as Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol alongside a host of Swedish and Nordic artists that include Siri Derkert and Dick Bengtsson. An outdoor collection and a sculpture garden further elevate the experience with Per Kirkeby’s "Untitled" standing out as a highlight. A labyrinthine roofless brick structure that sits somewhere between building and sculpture, the artwork may be freely entered and explored by visitors.
A little further south on Stadsgårdshamnen lies Fotografiska, an ode to photography and the world’s largest museum of its kind. Displaying photographs and exhibitions that are equal parts mysterious, glamorous, and controversial, the 2,500 square meter exhibition space hosts work by the likes of Annie Leibovitz and David LaChapelle alongside courses, lectures, and workshops for both beginners and professional photographers. A short walk inland towards Vasaparken is the Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum, an unmissable multipurpose building in which an art gallery and collector Sven-Harry Karlsson’s home are joined by a restaurant and museum shop.
Across the three large halls that make up the exhibition space, visitors can view one of Sweden’s largest private collections of Nordic art, with the work of Carl Fredrik Hill given special prominence. Pieces by Ernst Josephson, Ylva Ogland, and Helene Schjerfbeck are also viewable in a rooftop space that is a replica of Karlsson’s 18th-century manor house. Furnished by the likes of Gio Ponti and Georg Haupt, the standout structure designed by Anna Höglund and Gert Wingårdh is defined by a glimmering brass façade that shines like a beacon in this corner of town.
A short walk from here—and also designed in part by Gert Wingårdh—is Blique by Nobis, the newest property in the city from the Swedish Nobis Group and curator of witty cultural observations such as the self-published How To Act Like A Local guide. Here, visual arts events and regular exhibitions complement an on-site art collection that includes Joel Shapiro’s geometric sculpture "Untitled", a mesmerizing piece honed entirely from bronze. Located where the burgeoning Hagastaden district borders the Vasastaden quarter, the hotel is also a vocal supporter of its many neighboring galleries in an area that is now defined by a high presence of spaces dedicated to art and design.
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Amongst these are Galleri Andersson/Sandström, a contemporary art gallery specializing in outdoor sculpture and public commissions. Having previously collaborated with the Royal Djurgården Administration on solo exhibitions at the nearby Djurgården park, the gallery is also responsible for dozens of artworks elsewhere in the city—and throughout the Nordic region—while artists such as Katrin Westman, Lars Nilsson, Ylva Snöfrid, and Torsten Renqvist recently exhibited at its indoor space.
North of the city in Sundbyberg, Marabouparken is a public park founded in 1916 by chocolate company Marabou. Crafted to the vision of renowned landscape architect Sven Hermelin, the park is also home to the Marabouparken konsthall, a contemporary art gallery located in architect Arthur von Schmalensee’s former cocoa laboratory, and a collection of outdoor sculptures. With work from the likes of Leonard Baskin, Eric Grate, Émile Gilioli, and Bror Hjorth on permanent display, the park makes for an exciting outdoor experience with bookable tours of the sculptures also available and best rounded out with a meal at the revered onsite Restaurant Dolks Kök.
Continuing the foray outside the city center, Artipelag presents a unique landscape in which to explore Sweden’s public art offerings beyond the boundaries of the capital.
With a name that is a portmanteau of the words art, activities, and archipelago, the contemporary cultural center site located on Värmdö in the Stockholm Archipelago is a destination in its own right, and well worth the short ferry journey. Here, visitors will find a 2,973 square meter Johan Nyrén-designed art hall, a renowned design shop, and and a multitude of activities against a magnificent backdrop of archipelago nature. Sculpture in Nature, Artipelag’s permanent outdoor exhibition is discoverable amid paths in the island’s forests, shores, and meadows for an unforgettable encounter of both art and nature.
Words Ella Marshall Date 13 August 2021
Explore this city of contrasts through its storied indoor and outdoor art spaces with our detailed walking guide. Click below and off you go.
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