Inside the Stockholm Metro – The Longest Art Gallery In the World

Although Stockholm has no shortage of things to do on the ground level, it does have an underestimated masterpiece hidden deep beneath the 14 islands that make up the famous archipelago. Only the Swedes could make an otherwise rather dull public transit system so riveting; indeed the Stockholm metro has been deemed the world’s longest art gallery numerous times, at 100 kilometres long and stretching over 90 stations.

stockholm metro

Stadion

Stadion

Stadion, which services the Olympic Stadium and represents the Olympic rings

stockholm metro

T-Centralen, the first station in the network and where it all began. The pattern is supposed to create a soothing experience for commuters.

stockholm metro

T-Centralen

T-Centralen

The artist who designed T-Centralen wanted to honour the workers who built the station; instead of simply engraving their names on a plaque that no one would notice, he opted to paint each profession on the ceilings. If you look closely, you can see carpenters, miners, welders, and even the painter himself

stockholm metro

Radhuset

stockholm metro

Radhuset, which contains archeological remains from the Franciscan era

stockholm metro

Radhuset

stockholm metro

Solna

 

stockholm metro

Solna

stockholm metro

Solna – home to a 1-kilometre long mural by Anders Åberg and Karl-Olav Bjork picturing a spruce forest

Where Does All This Art Come From?

The presence of art inside something as ordinary as a metro network goes to show just how equalitarian Swedes fundamentally are. Stations were enhanced as part of an animated social debate back in the 1950s about how art should be accessible to everyone, not just the arguably scarce elite who could afford steep admission fee of Stockholm’s galleries and museums.

It was, at the time, quite unusual to launch such extensive and frivolous works in Europe in the aftermath of World War II, after which most construction works were only completed out of sheer necessity; but if you paid attention in history class, you’ll remember that Sweden was neutral in the conflict and didn’t suffer from a major economic crisis, leaving the country with plenty of money.

Although most Stockholmers have become oblivious to the art they walk past on their daily commute, they are definitely part of the fun for out-of-towners. Sculptures, paintings, engravings, mosaics; creativity knows no bounds in this vast underground gallery. 150 artists were selected to bring 90 of the 100 Stockholm metro stations to life through various mediums, topics, and tones – every station is different and sends a different message.

Touring The Stockholm Metro – Noteworthy Stations

Visit Stockholm has a pretty complete list of stations that should definitely be on your subterranean itinerary. I didn’t have enough time to do ALL of them, but my favourites were:

  • Kungsträdgården (blue line)
  • T-centralen (blue line)
  • Rådhuset (blue line)
  • Solna Centrum (blue line)
  • Stadion (red line)
stockholm metro

Kungsträdgården’s decor is basically a harlequin-themed archeological dig

stockholm metro

The relics insinde Kungsträdgården station belong to the National Art Museums and have been on display since the 1970s

stockholm metro

Kungsträdgården

Know Before You Go

  • If you plan on taking pictures, I recommend doing a self-guided tour in the evenings when there are much fewer commuters. I did my tour on a Saturday night (how mundane of me, I know) and I had most platforms to myself once trains left the station.
  • You can stay in the Stockholm metro as long as you want after you’ve purchased your ticket. In other words, this tour won’t cost you more than a few kronas.
  • Try to keep this activity for a rainy or chilly day (trust me, it will come faster than you think in this Nordic city). You wouldn’t want to waste a blissfully sunny day by staying indoors several metres below ground!
I travelled to Stockholm using my Eurail pass. All opinions are my own.
 

18 Comments on Inside the Stockholm Metro – The Longest Art Gallery In the World

  1. Stadtflaneur
    December 29, 2015 at 9:29 am (1 year ago)

    I wanna go to Stockholm just to see those stations!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      December 30, 2015 at 2:02 pm (1 year ago)

      GO!!! It’s such a wonderful city.

      Reply
  2. Jennifer
    December 29, 2015 at 2:05 pm (1 year ago)

    Wow, very cool! I’ve favourited this for my upcoming July trip!

    Reply
  3. Andrea
    December 30, 2015 at 9:18 pm (1 year ago)

    What a beautiful network of stations! I wish the NYC subway was half as nice as this. Instead we have rats and creeps!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      January 1, 2016 at 10:51 am (1 year ago)

      Not nearly as quaint!! But hey, it’s NYC :-)

      Reply
  4. Steven
    December 30, 2015 at 10:00 pm (1 year ago)

    I am fairly partial to the London tube since it’s so iconic, but I reckon this is quite spectacular. And I bet there are not as many planned engineering works in Stockholm, haha!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      January 1, 2016 at 10:50 am (1 year ago)

      Yes, the metro in Stockholm is quite punctual I must say. Vastly different from the tube in London! :-)

      Reply
  5. Lucia
    December 31, 2015 at 12:02 am (1 year ago)

    WOW Stockholm looks AMAZING! Definitely wanna go there :)

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      January 1, 2016 at 10:50 am (1 year ago)

      You should! It’s a gorgeous city, under and over ground.

      Reply
  6. Sophie
    December 31, 2015 at 5:05 pm (1 year ago)

    Gorgeous stations! I’m bookmarking this for my trip this August – you never know, it might rain the whole time!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      January 1, 2016 at 10:49 am (1 year ago)

      I hope it doesn’t!!! But at least you have these stations to keep you dry :-)

      Reply
  7. Valeriia
    January 8, 2016 at 1:05 pm (1 year ago)

    So beautiful! I regret so much we hadn’t explore Stockholm metro when we were there, damned foot-walking :D

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      January 12, 2016 at 5:34 pm (1 year ago)

      Well, overground Stockholm isn’t exactly terrible to look at, so there’s that ;-)

      Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      January 30, 2016 at 9:33 pm (12 months ago)

      Enjoy Stockholm!

      Reply
  8. Ken
    August 1, 2016 at 11:39 am (6 months ago)

    Great post!

    I visited the Stockholm subway art last year and loved it. As a matter of fact it was a major itinerary item for us. Came away thoroughly impressed and still excited when I get a chance to talk about it. So I came up with a set of tips on visiting the underground art. If you get a chance, please check it out and let me know what you think.

    Reply

1Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Inside the Stockholm Metro – The Longest Art Gallery In the World

  1. […] * Additional reading: Inside the Stockholm Metro – The Longest Art Gallery in the World […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *






937 Shares