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Nimis by Lars Vilks
“Nimis” is a driftwood sculpture by artist Lars Vilks, located on the waterline of Kullabergs’ nature reserve in Mölle, Skåne.
Photo credit: Lars Vilks

Outdoor art in Sweden – the highlights

Experiencing art in the open is a pleasure, and there’s plenty of it all over Sweden – from sprawling sculpture parks to compelling individual works.

Sweden’s art scene is well established, with its many internationally renowned galleries and museums. In addition, there are plenty of opportunities to discover art in the outdoors – both in rural and urban settings.

Here’s a crop of notable sculpture parks and individual outdoor artworks to discover across Sweden – from Skåne in the south to Umeå up north.

Southern Sweden

Nimis by Lars Vilks, Mölle

Appearing like an abstract, twig-based fortress on the waterline of Kullabergs’ nature reserve in Mölle, in the province of Skåne, Lars Vilk’s conceptual creation, ‘Nimis’, is one of Sweden’s most famous works of outdoor art. Crafted from driftwood, planks and tree branches, the first version was completed at the beginning of the 1980s, and has been evolving ever since. Permission to build the structure within the nature reserve was never granted, so its presence has attracted a certain level of controversy. On more than one occasion, parts of Nimis have been burnt down and rebuilt – a process that the artist considers an integral part of the concept, just like the various legal challenges it has been subject to. In the same area you’ll find another Vilks work – ‘Arx’. Places to eat nearby include Kullagårdens Wärdshus (check opening times as these vary depending on season). Nimis can be reached by public transport from the city of Ängelholm, and driving takes about 35 minutes (a little longer if travelling from Helsingborg).

Wanås Konst skulpturpark (sculpture park)

Nestling in Skåne’s Östra Göinge, Wanås Konst skulpturpark is a green oasis studded with world-class, contemporary art. Since its inauguration in 1987, Wanås has teamed up with a growing stable of Swedish and international artists, many of whom are world-renowned. Some 70 works have been created specifically for Wanås, including a version of Yoko Ono’s Wish Trees and Jenny Holzer’s Wanås Wall – a kilometre-long stretch of lichen-covered stonewall engraved with symbolic words. Other key artists include Ann Hamilton and Ann-Sofi Sidén. In addition to the sculpture park – open year-round and with onsite parking – there’s a gallery to discover (closed in winter). You’ll also find Wanås Restaurant Hotel nearby – a perfect place to refuel.

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Nimis by Lars Vilks

The driftwood sculpture "Nimis", by artist Lars Vilks, is located at the nature reserve Kullaberg in Mölle, Skåne.

Photo: Lars Vilks

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Nimis by Lars Vilks

Photo: Lars Vilks

Wanås Konst Sculpture Park

Photo: Mattias Givell

Wanås Konst Sculpture Park

Photo: Mattias Givell

Wanås Konst Scultpture Park

Photo: Anders Norrsell

Art exhibition at Wanås Castle, Skåne

Photo: Carolina Romare

Wanås Hotel & Restaurant

Photo: Fredrika Stjärne / Wanås

Lounge area at Wanås Hotel & Restaurant in Skåne

Photo: Magnus Mårding

Middle Sweden

Konst på Hög (Art on the mound), Kumla

Konst på Hög (Art on the mound) is a sculpture park spread across a 100-metre high, ash-based mound, called Kvarntorpshögen, in Kumla. Since 1998, this oil-industry remnant has played host to a growing number of sculptures and installations by Swedish and international artists, including Lenny Clarhäll, Maria Miesenberger, Ulla Viotti and Anders Krisàr. One of the key works is ‘Utan titel’ (No title), a humorous reference to the famous Hollywood sign as it’s set into the hillside – though it spells out ‘Johansson’ instead – the most common surname in Sweden. Another highlight is Kent Karlsson’s ‘Absit Omen’ church – an imposing, transparent edifice with a beguiling, otherworldly feel. Konst på Hög is officially open in the summertime when the road snaking up the mound is more accessible, but it is possible to visit all year round if you don’t mind the climb. The attraction can easily be reached from Kumla by car or public transport. To replenish, try Restaurang Goda Rum in the centre of town.

Museiparken (the Museum park), Karlstad

Combining culture and lush greenery, Museiparken (the Museum park) in central Karlstad is home to a line-up of sculptures by notable artists Siri Bjerke and Lena Cronqvist, who grew up in this charming town. Relationships and motherhood are two central themes in Cronqvist’s work, which is evident in one of her sculptures found here – ‘Hand i hand’ (Hand in hand). Located by Värmlands Museum, the park is also interesting from an architectural perspective. Designed by architect Cyrillus Johansson in the 1920s, the original part of the museum building is a temple-like affair, inspired by the Taj Mahal. Inside the museum, you’ll find Matbruket restaurant – a quality affair.

Skulpturparken in Ängelsberg (Ängelsberg Sculpture park)

Inaugurated in 2003, Skulpturparken in Ängelsberg is a summer highlight. Each year, typically in May, a new collection of art finds its way into this green space, idyllically located next to a river. Last year’s theme centred on the synergy between animals, humans and the environment. Some of the notable Swedish artists offering their interpretations – in abstract and figurative ways – include Inger Hahn-Redin, Eva Skoglund, Lars Larsson and Ole Drebold. There’s also a collection of permanent works to discover in and around the sculpture park – look out for Sture Collin’s bench, ‘Filosofiska bänken’, overlooking the river in the park and Uta Jacobs’s captivating steel structure ‘Himmelsbåge’, next to Ängelsberg station (a 10-minute walk from the sculpture park). Try the café and restaurant Nya Serveringen for a bite to eat.

Moderna Museet outdoor art, Stockholm

One of Sweden’s – and indeed Europe’s – key art establishments, Moderna Museet (Museum of Modern Art) offers a diverse and impressive range of art even before you enter the museum. The parkland and courtyard surrounding the building are studded with notable sculptures, including Alexander Calder’s ‘The Four Elements’ and ‘The Paradise’, a 16-part, collaborative artwork by Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely. When it’s time for lunch or a snack, Moderna Museet offers several options and the resident restaurant happens to be one of Stockholm’s most charming eateries, with views across the water. Located on Skeppsholmen island, in central Stockholm, you’ll easily get here on foot or bike.

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Konst på Hög in Kumla

"Corona Borealis" by the artist Lars Vilks at Konst på Hög in Kumla.

Photo: Kumla kommun

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Konst på Hög in Kumla

Photo: Kumla kommun

Konst på Hög in Kumla

Photo: Kumla Kommun

Museiparken in Karlstad

Photo: Värmlands Museum

Art work at Skulpturparken Ängelsberg

Photo: Fagersta turism

Visitors at Skulpturparken Ängelsberg

Photo: Fagersta turism

Moderna Museet in Stockholm

Photo: Åsa Lundén/Moderna MuseetÅsa Lundén/Moderna Museet © Alexander Calder/Bildupphovsrätt 2020

Moderna museet, Stockholm

Photo: Agence Les Conteurs

Moderna Museet in Stockholm

Photo: Åsa Lundén/Moderna Museet © Alexander Calder/Bildupphovsrätt 2020

Northern Sweden

Umedalens Skulpturpark (Umedalen’s Sculpture park), Umeå

A major cultural attraction, Umedalens Skulpturpark is home to over 40 artworks from notable Swedish and international artists, including Antony Gormley, Jaume Plensa and Anish Kapoor. Sculptures come and go and among the highlights over the years have been Louise Bourgeois’ ‘Eye Benches II’, Johanna Ekström’s ‘Ladder and Buky Schwartz’ Forest Hill’ – an abstract sphere made of plastic pipes and concrete. Located in Umedalen, 5 kilometres from Umeå city centre, you’ll get to this world-renowned spot easily by bus, and drivers will find parking nearby. It’s open every day all year round and entry is free.

Umedalens skulpturpark

“Umea Prototype” by the artist Serge Spitzer at Umedalens Skulpturpark.

Photo: Galleri Andersson/Sandström