ArkDes is a museum in Stockholm dedicated to architecture and design. It’s name is a shortening, in Swedish, of these two subjects (arkitektur och design). The official full name in English would be The Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design. It was known as the Swedish Museum of Architecture up until 2013 when it changed names and opened up for design exhibitions as well. The museum is located on the island of Skeppsholmen and shares an entrance with Stockholm’s modern art museum Moderna Museet. This makes it easy to visit both museums in one afternoon… and as both museums always have certain exhibitions with free entrance, there is no excuse not to visit one museum when at the other one!

The museum has had some interesting exhibitions throughout the years and I especially have fond memories of when they had a retrospective of the fashion of Jean-Paul Gaultier. I had a chance to visit the museum with friends last week and see two of their current exhibitions: Kiruna Forever (until Feb 7th, 2021) and Weird Sensation Feels Good (until Nov 1st).  They do also have a semi permanent exhibition on Architecture in Sweden, though we didn’t visit that exhibition this time.

If you are at all interested in architecture and city planning, then you will really enjoy Kiruna Forever. Kiruna is Sweden’s northernmost town, located up in Lapland, north of the Arctic Circle. While Kiruna is a popular turist destination these days due to the surrounding nature and nearby famous Ice Hotel, it is first and foremost a mining town. Kiruna Mine is the largest underground iron ore mine in the world, having produced more than 950 million tonnes of ore since mining started in 1898. This mine has been both the boon and the bane of Kiruna as the ever expanding mine has now reached below the city center.

This means that the town is being moved a few kilometers east, away from the mine. As you can imagine, this is a huge project. Started in 2014, it is expected to continue until 2100 with some buildings being moved and others being demolished and rebuilt. It does, however, allow for some fun and unique city planning. The exhibition looks at the history of the project and at the historic buildings being preserved. It also looks at how the project with unfold and what the new town will look like. To be honest, living in Stockholm, you are aware of the project through newspaper articles a couple of times a year… but it was very interesting to see it all laid out in the exhibition, giving you an appreciation for the scale of the project.

The second exhibition was very different! Weird Sensation Feels Different is a look at ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) which is that tingling sensation that usually starts in your scalp and then moves down the back of your neck, causing calmness and mild euphoria. It has become very popular in recent years, with designers and artists trying to create this feeling for viewers through different sensory mediums. In the exhibition, you work your way through, trying what the various artists have come up with… mainly through TVs with headphones (you are given sterile coverings for both the headphones and your feet). It was both interesting and very soothing. You can also take part virtually!

Both of these exhibitions have free admission. The easiest way to get to ArkDes from the Hotel Rival is to take the Djurgård ferry from nearby Gamla Stan. Just make sure you inform them that you wish to go to Skeppsholmen and not Djurgården (sometimes they make this stop only upon request). If you are in the downtown area, you can just walk across the bridge Skeppsholmsbron which, by the way, is a great place to take that perfect Instagram picture of Stockholm!

Pretty view from the bridge

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