The Stockholm subway system is said to be the world’s longest art exhibition – 110 kilometers long. Traveling by subway is like traveling through an exciting story that extends from the artistic pioneers of the 1950s to the art experiments of today.
It is truly one of a kind metro system. With one hundred stations, each with unique art on its platform and with a different theme and design for each station. Since 1957, various artists have played a key role when new stations have been built. Over time the metro’s oldest stations that were planned and built without any art have been redesigned with beautiful statues, murals, and installations.
Spending a day in Stockholm’s metro is basically like visiting the world’s longest art exhibition. Here is a list of 10 stunning underground metro stations in Stockholm.
Kunstragården Metro Station
One of Stockholm’s most stunning stations is unsurprisingly also one of its most photographe. Located in the middle of downtown Stockholm, it’s the terminus of the blue line, or at least until its southward extension opens in 2025.
Kungsträdgården is one of Stockholm’s oldest public parks. The name, roughly meaning “The King’s Garden”, is derived from the area’s royal history. Between 1643 and 1825 it was the site of the majestic Makalös Palace, and a beautiful French garden.
Mörby Centrum subway station
At a first glance, the art at Mörby Centrum’s station might seem unassuming. Except for the colorful tilework embedded in the bedrock, the color scheme is light and almost subdued. But as art guide Marie Andersson explains it, the color is actually an optical illusion.
The walls actually change color depending on where you stand on the platform. From one end the room appears white with a light shade of pink, and from the other white and grayish-green. The effect was achieved by first lighting the wall and painting its shadows from one side, and then from the other. The artists, Gösta Wessel and Karin Ek wanted to emphasize the changing landscape on a journey, not only on the platform itself but more importantly from your starting point to your destination.
Hallonbergen subway station
The first tenants of Hallonbergen’s typical Swedish “Millon Program”-apartment blocks moved into the suburb in 1969, but construction continued until the mid-’70s when Hallonbergen also got its own metro station.
With Hallonbergen’s relatively young age in mind, it’s probably no coincidence that the artists Elis Eriksson and Gösta Wallmark were inspired by their own childhoods when decorating the subway station.
Looking at the artwork can best be described as peeking into the vivid imagination of a child, with colorful drawings of fantastical beasts and imaginative contraptions.
Solna Centrum Metro Station
The station of Solna Centrum opened with the first arm of the blue line in 1975. The bright green and red landscape – the green being the forest and the red an evening sun setting behind the treetops – is both timeless in its beauty, but also something that few other stations artwork is; political.
After completing the walls artists Karl-Olov Björk and Anders Åberg felt they were lacking. So they continued adding various details and scenes to the forest.
“Originally the walls were supposed to be only green and red”, explains art guide Marie Andersson. “So the rest of the paintings were pretty much improvised. This resulted in pictures that illustrated some of the most debated societal topics in 70’s era Sweden; the environment, deforestation, and the depopulation of rural areas”.
Citybanan – Odenplan Metro Station
Citybanan, a new track for Stockholm’s commuter trains that connects T-Centralen directly with Odenplan, was completed in 2017 with new platforms and new art by 14 artists on the stations.
Hanging down from the ceiling of Odenplan’s western entrance hallway, “Life Line” is one of Citybanan’s most eye-catching pieces. The piece by David Svensson consists of jagged white lines of fluorescent light, shining brightly in the tunnels. Obviously, the 400 meters of LED-lighting serves a practical purpose, but they’re also of a personal nature explains art guide, Marie Andersson:
“The shape of the lights was inspired by the heartbeats of the artist’s son, as shown on the CTG-monitor during the childbirth”.
Tekniska Högskolan Subway Station
Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (KTH Royal Institute of Technology) was founded in 1827 and has since then had famous alumni like Christer Fuglesang, Dolph Lundgren, and Anette Scheibe pass its exams. In 1973 Tekniska Högskolan finally got its own subway station, to help students and professors get to their classes.
Unsurprisingly, the award-winning station (with art by Lennart Mörk) is a celebration of scientific advances and discoveries. The most eye-catching are probably the five regular polyhedra located on the platform, each one representing one of Plato’s five elements: fire, water, air, earth, and ether.
– You’ll also find representations of Copernican heliocentrism, Polhem’s mechanical alphabet, Newton’s three laws of motion, and da Vinci’s attempts at creating a flying machine, explains art guide, Marie Andersson.
Stadion Subway Station
Each year Östermalms IP serves as the main festival area for the Stockholm Pride festival. By coincidence, the nearby subway station (Stadion) happens to have a beautiful rainbow in vivid colors painted against the bright blue of the station’s cave walls to welcome festival-goers. The station is one of Stockholm’s first cave stations, a controversial subject when it was built in 1973.
The station’s artists, Åke Pallarp and Enno Hallek, not only wanted to bring the sky underground but also remind passengers of Stadion’s significance in sports history. Close by is The Stockholm Olympic Stadium, the site for the 1912 Olympics, and each year between 1913 and 1965 the Swedish bandy finals. Today, Stadion is still one of Stockholm’s great arenas and regularly hosts sports events and concerts.
Solna Strand Metro Station
The contrast between the heavenly cubes – jutting out from the ceiling and platform at Solna Strand – and the dark cave, is characteristic of Takashi Naraha’s art. The Japanese artist often uses a yin-and-yang-theme in his work, explains art guide Marie Andersson.
“It’s the foundation of his pieces, there’s often a balance between light and darkness. And in the way that the platform’s cubes mirror the open sky above ground, the black cube just outside the station entrance relates to the dark cave below ground”.
Tensta Metro Station
The Suburb of Tensta was built between 1966 and 1972 to accommodate a Stockholm that was growing and in need of more residential housing. Although it was part of the building plans from the beginning, the station of Tensta wasn’t ready until 1975.
Artist Helga Henschen, together with Arne Sedell and her brother Lars, spent over a year decorating the station’s platform with a colorful display of animal sculptures and stylized leaves against a bright white wall. Since Tensta has always had a majority of residents who immigrated to Sweden, the artists wanted the station to feel welcoming no matter where your roots are, explains art guide Marie Andersson.
“The various pieces are called “A rose for the immigrants”, “Solidarity”, “Kinship”. The words written around the station are a celebration of all the people from different cultures living in Tensta”.
Östermalmstorg Metro Station
Situated approximately 23 meters below sea level (roughly 75 feet), Östermalmstorg is the third deepest subway station in Stockholm’s metro system. The station, completed in 1965, lies in the heart of the city’s poshest and most expensive boroughs; Östermalm.
Although the station displays several works of art by different artists, the centerpiece is Siri Derkert’s sketches adorning the station walls. The pictures blasted into pitch-black rock walls covered in white concrete, are both playful and personal. Derkert was 77 years old when the station opened and the station’s art was in a sense a summary of her extraordinary body of work.
“The central themes in her art are all represented on the walls”, says art guide Marie Andersson. “When walking around the station you will see the word “peace” written in different languages, you will see portraits of people that had been working for the environment and with women’s rights issues”.
Derkert’s involvement in the women’s rights movement is evident in the historical figures depicted on the walls. Many are women from the Fogelstad group, a women’s art collective which Derkert was a member of.