5 cultural must-visits in Småland
Småland has a diverse design scene, to say the least. Why not create your own glass art in the Kingdom of Crystal? Learn all about the story of IKEA in Älmhult. Or visit the childhood home of a world-renowned Swedish furniture designer. You’ll also find a rural museum and four barns filled with contemporary art.
Bruno Mathsson Center, Värnamo
Curious about one of the most prominent Swedish furniture designers of all times? Learn more about Bruno Mathsson’s furniture at the Bruno Mathsson Center, and visit the studio and office where he created many of his designs.
Bruno Mathsson presented a new type of furniture design in the 20th century and soon became one of Sweden’s most prominent furniture designers of all times. The chairs he designed became immensely popular and have become icons for Scandinavian design. It is said that his aim was to provide a new way of sitting, suitable for modern times. In the 1940’s Mathsson paid a longer visit to the USA, where he was inspired to build glass houses. When returning home, he built a glass house adjacent to his childhood home, which is now the Bruno Mathsson Center. Visitors are invited into Mathsson’s office and studio, and can visit an exhibition to view the furniture he designed from the 1930’s onwards, which are excellent examples of Swedish design. A guided tour is recommended for the full experience.
Virserums Konsthall exhibits art on 1,600 m² in the rural town of Virserum. The art museum aims to portray a different image of Sweden, with a more rural focus, while highlighting concepts of gender, class and geography too.
Virserums Konsthall is an art gallery and an important meeting point for people of the area and its visitors. There are always several art exhibitions open here and the main exhibition hall, called ‘the Paper House’, is a sight in itself. The upper floor has an arched ceiling, which lets in a dim natural light, whereas the ground floor is totally cut off from daylight, creating an interesting interior and a different example of Swedish architecture. Before you leave, make sure to pop by the small shop and the cosy café serving organic food.
Glasriket – a wonderland of glass
‘The Kingdom of Crystal’ – Glasriket – invites you to experience renowned glassworks via a range of activities – and ample opportunity to stock up on some iconic Swedish decor.
Glasriket is a cultural hub nestling in the province of Småland, in southern Sweden, and covers a vast area between the cities of Växjö and Kalmar. The history of this famous glass district stretches back to 1742. Today there are over a dozen glassworks and studios to discover, along with a wide range of activities and events. At Kosta Glass Centre, which is part of Glasriket’s experience-driven hub, you can try blowing your own glass, or stand back and observe the hot, molten mass transforms into a beautiful glass.
IKEA Museum in Älmhult
Located in what was the very first IKEA store, opened in 1958, this museum will be intriguing for interior design fans from around the world. The permanent exhibition – The Story of IKEA – traces the history of the company and the unique concept behind it all. In addition to the main exhibition, there are several temporary showcases.
Don’t miss the gift shop where you can find books, candy and sometimes even vintage IKEA products that you will not find anywhere else. A great way to top off a memorable experience.
Vandalorum Art and Design Museum, Värnamo
Vandalorum is a contemporary art and design museum, featuring works by both international and Swedish designers. Opened in 2011 and built after an original concept by the Italian architect Renzo Piano, it was inspired by the monumental drying barn that once stood on the site.
Vandalorum displays various types of art and design, however one of the four barns is fully dedicated to Smålands Konstarkiv, which highlights Swedish designers associated to Småland.
While you’re there, don’t miss the museum restaurant Syltan awarded Swedish Culture Restaurant of the Year in 2018!