Art in the Stockholm Metro: The World’s Longest Art Exhibition

Stadion Station, Stockholm
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on email
Email

Disclosure: This article may contain links to products/services that I may earn a small commission from- at no extra cost to you.

The Stockholm Metro is full of busy people, scurrying around on their way to work, school or the shops. There is no time to stop and look around. Which is a pity, because Stockholm’s subway stations are full of original artworks, making the Metro a work of art in itself.

Stadion Station, Stockholm
Art in the Stockholm Metro: Stadion Station has an eye-catching rainbow arch

Exploring Art in the Stockholm Metro

The art in the Stockholm Metro is sometimes described as  “the world’s longest art exhibition”. This is no mean claim: the subway system is 110 km long, and of its 100 stations more than 90 feature work from more than 150 different artists. I joined one of Stockholm Transport’s free art walks to find out more.

Tiles of T-Centralen Station, Stockholm
The tiled walls of T-Centralen are a characteristic feature of the older stations

 

We were shown round by Tiiu, an enthusiastic Estonian who explained the history of art in the Metro. When the first station – T-Centralen – was opened in 1957, there was a competition for artists to decorate the station. Twelve works were selected, some of which are still on show today. As the network expanded attention was paid to the design of the stations themselves, with the early stations all featuring a distinctive tiled design.

Artwork in T-Centralen Station, Stockholm
An artwork at T-Centralen depicts some of the people who built the first station

Artworks were added to new stations as they were built. Over time this has meant that the Metro as a whole exhibits a variety of different styles of art and architecture, incorporating mosaics, sculptures and much more.  And there is a a policy of adding new artworks to older stations. All of this this gives the illusion that the Metro is one massive art gallery!

New Lines and Grotto Stations

Leaving T-Centralen, our tour visited some of the stations on the Red Line. This was the second line of the Stockholm Metro, built in the 1960s. Two of its stations – Universitetet and Tekniska högskolan (Technical High School) – were crammed full of knowledge themed artworks. Their subjects ranged from  Plato to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to the Declaration of Human Rights. We also stopped at Stadion, with its eye-catching rainbow-painted archway.

Artwork in Universitetet Station, Stockholm
Mural of African animals at Universitetet Station

 

Then it was on to the Blue Line, with its so-called “grotto stations”. These made a feature of the granite from which the stations were blasted, creating a subterranean cave like atmosphere. We visited Kungsträdgården, one of the best known of the grotto stations. There is plenty to see just in this one station, with its grand statues and ceiling art. Most impressive to me was the area full of ancient artefacts salvaged when the city was redeveloped – it made the station seem more like a museum than a busy subway station.

Kungsträdgården Station, Stockholm
Ancient artefacts are part of the display at Kungsträdgården Station

I could have spent longer at Kungsträdgården, but this was the end of the tour. But it was really only the beginning. I still had more than 80 stations to explore…

Thanks to Tiiu and to SL, the Stockholm Transport company, for this tour of the Art of the Stockholm Metro. SL offer free tours in the summer months (you just need a Metro ticket) – see the website for details.

Looking for a hotel in Stockholm? Book here with Booking.com.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on pinterest
Pinterest

10 thoughts on “Art in the Stockholm Metro: The World’s Longest Art Exhibition”

  1. Beautiful art – almost a pity that it’s only to be seen underground. I love that the artwork at T-Centralen depicts some of the people who built the first station. It must be so hard to work in tunnels (I’m sitting outside with a beautiful view of the french countryside).

  2. I Love traveling through the stations, I wished I had stopped to explore more of the unique stations instead of just passing through a lot of them, would have been a fantastic experience.

  3. By no means do I want to diminish Stockholm’s claim of “the world’s longest art exhibition”, but art in Metro stations seems to be a global trend. It gives the utilitarian spaces an extra dimension and makes the sometimes long wait times more interesting. I’m sure it also reduces graffiti and other damage. We found last year some stunning examples of art in subway stations in Santiago de Chile.

  4. What a terrific way to share art with the masses on public transportation. I’m guessing that many of these works have inspired more than a few people. Would love to check it out some day.

Leave a Comment

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

About Karen

WorldWideWriter is owned and managed by Karen Warren. I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 60 countries at the last count). I’ve visited every continent except Antarctica (I still hope to get there one day…), and my current favourite destinations are Italy, Spain and North America. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way.

FOLLOW ME

Want a regular dose of inspiration and information from WorldWideWriter?

Sign up to our mailing list now!

Booking.com