Imagea.org/Creative Commons

Think of it as the world's largest public art exhibit.

The Wikipedia entry for Stockholm’s Metro system says that it has 100 stations in use along about 65 miles of track. I seem to recall that Stockholm was one of the cities used to illustrate the concept of transit-oriented development in Michael Bernick and Robert Cervero’s 1996 book on the subject, Transit Villages in the 21st Century. I also know that Stockholm was an early adopter of congestion pricing for roadways.

Courtesy of Imagea.org/Flickr
Courtesy of Ingrid Truemper/Flickr

What I didn’t know until now, however, was that transportation innovation in the Swedish capital and its suburbs also extends to a flamboyant display of public art in its Metro stations. Indeed, The website Twisted Sifter relays the claim that the system is basically "the world’s longest art exhibit":

Travellng by metro is like travelling through an exciting story that extends from the artistic pioneers of the 1950s to the art experiments of today. Over 90 of the 100 subway stations in Stockholm have been decorated with sculptures, mosaics, paintings, installations, engravings and reliefs by over 150 artists. What a fun and inexpensive way to explore the art and culture of an incredible city like Stockholm!

map of the Stockholm Metro (by: Stonyyy, creative commons)


Courtesy of @raulds/Flickr

Several of the underground stations, especially on the system’s Blue Line, are left with the shape of the bedrock exposed, covered in sprayed concrete, as part of the exhibits. At the Rissne station, says Wikipedia, a wall fresco depicting the history of Earth's civilizations runs along both sides of the platform. In six of the stations the art is temporary and replaced periodically.

Courtesy of August Linnman/Creative Commons


Courtesy of Nenyaki/Flickr

Twisted Sifter says the movement to install art in the Metro began in the mid-1950s. There are guided tours of the highlights.  Enjoy these photos garnered from the collections of photographers generous enough to license their work for public use (as always, move your cursor for the credits). 


Courtesy of Kallie1/Wikimedia Commons


Courtesy of imagea.org/Flickr

For an especially fun presentation, watch this video (Spanish with English subtitles) of an animated host taking us on a tour of some of the highlights:

This post originally appeared on the NRDC's Switchboard blog, an Atlantic partner site.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Graffiti on a wall reads "Tourist Go Home."
    Life

    The Global Tourism Backlash

    A surge in tourism has led to a backlash in cities where residents feel overrun. How can these cities use tourism to their benefit?

  2. Illustration of a house with separate activities taking place in different rooms.
    POV

    The Case for Rooms

    It’s time to end the tyranny of open-concept interior design.

  3. Roselyn Grullon, Amaurys Grullon, and Josue Caceres in front of their shop, Bronx Native on Lincoln Avenue. It is one of the new businesses by Bronx locals hoping to take control of the changes in the borough.
    Equity

    The Bronx: Don’t Call It a Comeback

    These Bronx natives have been here for years. In the midst of rapid gentrification, they say they are taking control and offering the borough cultural experiences that as youngsters, they had to venture downtown to find.

  4. An image from the grand opening of Manhattan's Second Avenue Subway line in 2017. Officials have been criticized for opening it before it extended past East 96th Street, a dividing line that separates one of Manhattan's wealthiest neighborhoods, the Upper East Side, from East Harlem, one of the poorest.
    Equity

    The Segregation of Our Everyday Lives

    A new study analyzes Twitter data and finds that racial segregation not only divides us based on where we live, but how we travel around cities.

  5. Transportation

    It's Way Too Hot on the New York City Subway

    Temperatures on New York City transit platforms are reaching past 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Many cars aren’t much better. How did we get here?