By Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, Minister for Culture, Sweden
Moderna Museet (The Museum of Modern Art) situated at Skeppsholmen in Stockholm. The above exhibition includes, from the left: Alfred Leslie NY 10 NY, 1961; Andy Warhol, Mao 1973; (on the wall, partly hidden) Claes Oldenburg Model Medicin Cabinet, 1966; John Chamberlain MAAB, 1969. Photo: www.imagebank.sweden.se © Nicho Södling
Sweden is a country with high cultural intensity – and density! A country widely known for its natural beauty and vast landscape scenery, Sweden is also prominent in cutting-edge urban culture.
In our heritage, we are often connected to the adventurous Vikings (who were also great shipbuilders and original craftsmen). But it is far richer than that. Today, we are the home of globally active entrepreneurs in furniture and fashion, computer games and popular music. People in our cultural industries receive their inspiration and skills from an early introduction to the arts in school. And this continues: from a national perspective, Sweden has one of the highest levels of citizen participation in cultural activities in the world.
Why is this? Maybe it has something to do with our strong democratic culture, where civil society for more than a century has played an active role in engaging people in the arts. Or is it because of the openness to all things new, the curiosity that has built so many fertile relationships across cultural and geographic borders?
We travel a lot, and our society has historically been both a nation of emigrants and of immigrants, crossbreeding and developing our cultural life. Today, almost all citizens have access to the Internet and are known as early adapters in the world of fashion, design and communication. Contemporary art prospers, and our artists participate on the international arena, as does theatre and dance, classical music, opera, crafts and architecture.
Tourists never miss a visit to the famous Vasa Museum, the amazing recovered warship from the 17th century that sank at the very beginning of its maiden voyage. And you should not miss the regional or international music festivals, like the Baltic Sea festival with initiators and classical superstars like Valery Gergiev and Esa-Pekka Salonen; or Bingsjöstämman, a meeting-place for traditional music in a wonderful Dalecarlia setting – not far from the unique Dalhalla stage for concerts and opera.
You can also experience the Moderna Museet, with its exceptional collection of modern art, or the Cullberg ballet, often performing at the International Scene of Contemporary Dance. One of the most famous Swedes throughout history is undoubtedly Carl von Linné, the Father of Botany. You can visit his rural home outside Uppsala – not far away from the great medieval cathedral in the centre of the town. Well, there is so much more – who could grasp it all in such a short space? We just hope to see you!
P.S. You shouldn’t miss the white nights of midsummer either, far out in the archipelago… but that’s only pure nature.