While Sweden might not have the most extensive public transit system, it certainly might have the prettiest—which some people are actually calling the longest art gallery in the world. Nearly 90% of Stockholm’s train stations feature an art installation of some kind, and if these subway stops were part of our commute one thing is for sure: We’d only ever be late to work from gawking and trying to get the perfect shot of each and every one.
During the summer season, from June through August, travelers can actually take a guided English-language tour of more than a dozen of Stockholm’s 100 stations, which is—as Visit Stockholm says—”an excellent opportunity to learn about public art in Sweden, how the art is chosen and why there is art in the subway, in the first place.” Not to mention, you know, get around the city.
When the T-Centralen and Gamla Stan stations were constructed in the 1950s, they became the first of Stockholm’s subway stations to incorporate public art: paintings, installations, mosaics, and sculptures. Since 2010, every new station has been planned in conjunction with Swedish artists, and the subway’s older stations have been redecorated over time.
Up until recently, Sweden’s subway art exhibition was an openly kept secret among Stockholm residents and European photographers, but now is getting worldwide acclaim and the visitors to match—thanks to popular travel bloggers on Instagram, such as “subwaygrammer” Linn Heimdahl from Sweden and Hand Luggage Only from the UK.
“[The metro stations] had been famous among the world of photographers for a long time. I wanted to see them for myself and take my own approach on the subject. I shot late into the night—I just keep getting carried away exploring.”
If you plan to visit Stockholm, the 14 stations featured on the guided tours are: T-Centralen, with a calming blue and white flower and creeping vine motif; Stadion, with rainbows and pride; Solna Centrum, with a “volcanic” look meant to provoke debate about environmental issues; Thorildsplan, pixelated 8-bit video game levels; Bagarmossen, with colorblocked, screen-painted glass plates; Citybanan-Odenplan, with its neon “heartbeats”; Kungstradgarden, with a spiderweb design evocative of the Palace gardens history above the station (and Afghan blankets); Solna Strand, with yin and yang cubes that mirror life above and below; Tensta, with primitive stencils evoking “kinship” and “solidarity”; Ostermalmstorg, line drawing portraits of notable figures in women’s rights and other issues; Hotorget, 1950s-inspired neon; Tekniska Hogskolan, a celebration of the scientific advances and discoveries; Hollonbergen, the artists’ own childhood drawings; and Morby Centrum, with its cotton candy and rainbow striped optical illusions.
Find more traveler information, subway maps, and even interviews with some of the subway station artists, at VisitStockholm.com.
Or just browse through all the traveler photos on Instagram.