The Stockholm subway system is said to be the longest art exhibition in the world – 110 kilometers in length. 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. Over 90 of the 100 subway stations in Stockholm have been decorated with sculptures, mosaics, paintings, installations, engravings and reliefs by over 150 artists. It’s a part of a long tradition of public art for public transport.
The Kungsträdgården subway station looks like an archaeological excavation, with the remains of the old Stockholm Makalös palace. At Östermalmstorg the artist Siri Derkert highlights women’s rights and peace and environmental issues. The roof of one Stockholm station is red-lit, making it appear to be covered in billowing flames, and another boasts ancient-looking statues carved out of the tunnel walls.
Another has also taken a classical theme, with foliage entwined around pillars; while others are more modern, with rainbows painted over the rough-hewn rock surface and multi-coloured arrows pointing passengers in the right direction.
Their website states: ‘The art makes the stations perceived as more beautiful, safer and it helps to make the trip into something more than just a transport between two places.