Artipelag’s art gallery, it houses one of Stockholm’s largest art collections

A short 12 miles away from central Stockholm lies a 54-acre space for art, nature and events. The idea and execution by Björn Jakobson, founder of a baby equipment design company, and now also the founder of Artipelag. Artipelag first began in 2000 and it took twelve years until the gallery opened in 2012. The name ‘Artipelag’ was derived from the words art, activities and archipelago. Jakobson’s vision for the place is combined within its name, showcasing his vision and intention for a place to enjoy art, activities and nature. On site is also a flexible event studio called Artbox, rigged with professional standard equipment within a 12m  high space of 13,000 square feet space. On the rooster of Artbox are conferences, product launches, opera performances, television broadcasts, banquets, and unique art exhibitions.

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Entrance at Artipelag. Image by Von Chua.

The museum published a book about this project from inception to completion. It was so interesting and digestible that I completed reading it whilst sitting between pine trees on the museum restaurant’s outdoor decked terrace, overlooking what looks like the Swedish archipelago yet being a short 30 minutes bus operated by the museum.  

Untouched rocks, clear sea water and small parts of pine forest act as the largest canvas for the gallery. Architect Johan Nyrén was tasked with designing Artipelag. Nyrén’s fundamental idea is to include four elements: fire, earth, air and water. All these elements are immediately apparent when one arrives at Artipelag, seeing the building in/on/partially within the earth and rocks, seeing and hearing fire crackling in the fireplace, the framing and access to the water and air from the 32,000 square feet of museum space.

Main gallery space at Artipelag. Image by Von Chua.

At Artipelag’s art gallery, it houses one of Stockholm’s largest art collections at 32,000 square feet. There is one large exhibition room overlooking the water at 11,000 square feet. The artworks seem to be focused on Swedish and Nordic artists, and thematically laid out in pockets of spaces in the gallery with a mix of paintings and sculptures. The views outside the windows overlooking the Swedish archipelago, to me, were the real superstars of the gallery space. In addition to the large exhibition room, there are four additional exhibition rooms, each with a different architectural feature, such as a different quality of light. The pieces with a longer history and presumably more sensitive to natural light are located within these smaller additional exhibition rooms that are protected from direct sunlight.

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Solar Egg sculpture perching by the water edge at Artipelag. Image by Von Chua.

Located in a place immersed in nature, away from the hustle and bustle of the city that is merely 30 minutes away from the heart of Stockholm, Artipelag also has a permanent outdoor exhibition which is a main highlight of the visit. The sculptural artworks are dotted around the acreage of land, encouraging visitors to meander through the small pine forest and seashore fronts, which felt like a hidden escape from Stockholm city.

When art is placed in nature - not just within a white cube or gallery space, the synergy of artworks, most often in three dimensional forms, can be truly special to experience. Depending on the curation of the sculpted artworks, at times, the artworks can seem grounded in the space. For example, some of my favourite art in nature is by artist Richard Long; Long’s works are often made of earth, stone, mud and other natural materials.

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Close to Stockholm city but also close to nature. Image by Von Chua.

Where Artipelag is located, it is located within the undeveloped outskirts of Stockholm called Värmdölandet, 12 miles east of Stockholm. Upon reading the materials about what drove Artipelag’s founder Jakobson to select this place, it is apparent that the site selection of Artipelag was carefully considered. Jakobson was seeking a spot with the characteristics of the Swedish archipelago, and therefore, access to fresh air, clear water, bare rocks and a natural ecosystem were Jakobsen’s priority in the decision making process.

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The communal sinks in Artipelag’s washrooms. Image by Von Chua.

On top of the links between art and nature, Jakobson also managed to make the link between architecture and nature. Walking around the buildings designed by Nyrén, there are many details that retain the rawness but beauty found in nature. The final impressive moment was the washroom’s communal sinks, which were oversized stones seemingly dropped on location, gently carved to guide the water flow, adorned with gold sanitaryware that automatically dispenses water when one approaches it.

Artipelag project was one of architect Johan Nyrén’s last works before his passing in 2011. To visit:

Address: Artipelagstigen 1, 134 40 Gustavsberg, Sweden