This Contemporary Cultural Centre Is Hidden in a Swedish Forest

Artipelag | Courtesy of Artipelag
Photo of Danai Christopoulou
12 April 2018

They say it’s the journey that counts, not the destination. With all due respect, those who say that have clearly never been to Artipelag. Nestled on Värmdö in the Stockholm Archipelago, surrounded by pine trees and calm waters, Artipelag offers both a picturesque journey from the center of Stockholm and is a vibrant destination for art, good food and cultural events.

Where nature meets purpose

Back in 2000, BabyBjörn founder Björn Jakobson wanted to create “a beautiful building for art and cultural experiences somewhere in the Stockholm archipelago.” Soon, the perfect location was found: Hålludden, by Baggen’s Bay in Värmdö just 12 miles east of Stockholm. The location combines nature trails, a long stretch of wide, wooden footpaths that lead all the way from the docks of the marina to the main building, rocks, pine trees and crisp air. The name of the venture speaks of its diverse nature as well: Artipelag is a combination of the words “art” and “archipelago,” which serves as a destination that combines breathtaking views, art exhibitions that defy categorization, inspiring activities, and great food.

Entrance to Artipelag | Courtesy of Artipelag

The building itself, designed by architect Johan Nyrén, blends organically with the landscape. The bevelled, pitch pine planks that grace the walls were carefully sourced from the nearby area, whereas the entrance hall thoughtfully combines all four elements: fire, crackling in the fireplace; earth, the building’s foundation; clear, pine-scented air and water, framing the site.

Artipelag is nestled among pine trees | Courtesy of Artipelag

Apart from the large art hall, there is also a gift shop with custom-design products, a concert event space, conference rooms and two restaurants. And speaking of the restaurants, both the formal venue and the café/buffet have outdoor seating, serve organic food, and can be booked for parties and events – or even weddings.

The restaurant in Artipelag | Courtesy of Artipelag

Putting the “art” in “archipelago”

But of course, the crown jewel in Artipelag is its art gallery – one of Stockholm’s largest, at 32,000 sq ft. The main exhibition room is washed in natural light, offering a mesmerizing view of the forest and the water, but the art exhibited here has no problem reclaiming your attention. Renowned artists like Giorgio Morandi, creative powerhouses like Andy Warhol, as well as contemporary Swedish artists like Jan Håfström have all graced Artipelag’s walls with their work.

There’s also an impressive Artbox with impossibly high ceilings that can take up an audience of up to 1,000 people. The Artbox hosts cultural activities like opera performances, studio recordings for large orchestras, film, TV and commercial production – and it’s available to book.

View of the art gallery of Artipelag | Courtesy of Artipelag

There and back again

Although seemingly secluded, there are many ways to reach Artipelag. There is a private bus from Vasagatan in Stockholm on weekends and public holidays (the ride from Stockholm to Artipelag is free, but the trip back costs SEK 50), as well as three public transportation options – one of which will leave you right outside the door. You can also drive (there is ample parking space) or arrive by boat. There are regular boat tours to Artipelag from Stockholm in the summer months, or you can moor your private boat in the marina any time of the year.

The marina at Artipelag | Courtesy of Artipelag

Exhibitions at Artipelag usually last the whole season, so that more people have the time to visit. This season, until September 30, the current exhibition is called “Bloomsbury Spirit“, a tribute to the radical Bloomsbury Group that was active in Great Britain during the early 20th century – with members including Virginia Woolf, Leonard Woolf and E.M. Forster. You will have the chance to see works of art on loan from the TATE and the Victoria & Albert Museum (among others) in an exhibition that spans across different genres, from painting and photography to fashion and garden art. Yet another proof that at Artipelag art is like a force of nature – diverse and defying categorization.

Artipelag in the winter | Courtesy of Artipelag