Stockholm’s Underground Art of Tunnelbana

Stockholm’s underground transit system, known as the Tunnelbana, is commonly referred to as “the world’s longest art exhibition.” The system opened in the 1950’s with a public art initiative kicking off in 1957. As a result, today, ninety of the system’s one hundred stations feature artwork produced from over 150 artists. With each passing decade, a new approach to improving the Tunnelbana’s art emerged. The 1950’s saw the development of the green line, which featured tiled wall displays. The red line was developed in the 1960’s when the tunnel design shifted from square, bathroom tiles to rectangular, earth-toned tiles. During the 1970’s a shift in design led to the application of sprayed concrete to give the illusion of a cave. The 1980’s gave rise to the development of “trumpet” stations, which featured only one entrance with a shape that goes from wide to narrow. The 1990’s and the present decade have largely been dedicated to revamping the current stations, adding tiling and design to ticket areas and stairways as well as adding sculptures throughout the stations.

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