Culture & history
Museums in Småland
Here are some tips on some of Småland's museums - everything from polar exhibitions and fairytales, to art glass and motorcycles.
Älmhult – the cradle of IKEA – has since 2016 been home to the IKEA Museum, housed in the premises where the very first IKEA store opened its doors in 1958. Discover IKEA’s roots, and stories about the company and the people who shopped there. And of course about IKEA’s founder, Ingvar Kamprad. There is also a rolling programme of interesting temporary exhibitions. The museum shop sells bits and pieces with that unmistakeable IKEA feel that you won’t find anywhere else.
The story of the Husqvarna company – based in the village of the same name but spelt Huskvarna – is a long one, stretching back an impressive 300 years. In premises that until the 1940s were home to the weapons workshop, visitors can explore exhibitions that bring the story of the company’s extensive production to life. It all started with weapons, which in the second half of the 19th century gradually came to be supplemented by civilian items. The list of products is a long one, and today the Husqvarna Group is the world’s largest manufacturer of outdoor power products such as chainsaws and lawn mowers.
MX World Collection
The man behind the impressive motocross exhibition in Vimmerby is Magnus Frodig: a private individual, racing driver and motocross enthusiast of grand proportions. When his private collection of world-championship motocross bikes became too large to keep at home, he decided to share it with the world. The MX World Collection comprises 230 bikes, all with a unique story to tell. The museum showcases both unique technical innovations and bikes ridden by legends of motocross and enduro. A truly fascinating experience and a museum out of the ordinary!
The large red barns housing the Vandalorum art and design centre can be found at the southern approach to Värnamo. The centre hosts an ever-changing mix of regional, national and international contemporary art and design – always topical, always relevant. Italian architect Renzo Piano took some of his inspiration for the buildings from the big red drying barn that once stood on this very spot.
Kalmar’s magnificent Renaissance castle has played an important part in Sweden’s history since it was built at the end of the 13th century, due in no small part to its strategic location. It may have a different use now but the castle is still very much alive. Visitors can choose between a number of different exhibitions, both the permanent ones relating the story of the castle and temporary ones on various themes. The castle also offers a wide range of activities and experiences for children, particularly in the summer.
Sagomuseet - the Museum of Legends
An exciting museum for children and adults alike! Sagobygden – the Land of Legends – is an area of south-western Småland with a strong tradition of oral storytelling. The area was home to storytellers and important collectors of stories and legends, which meant that much of the Swedish oral tradition was written down here. The Museum of Legends in Ljungby is the heart of this unique district. Visitors can explore the museum on their own or in the company of a storyteller.
The Glass Factory
The Glass Factory – an experience-based interactive museum – lies at the heart of the Kingdom of Crystal. The museum functions as a knowledge centre and a creative meeting place for artists, designers and visitors. The collection of art glassware comprises 30,000 objects from various glassworks. The pulsing heart of the museum is the glassworks itself, which both produces art glassware and pushes the boundaries by experimenting. Visitors can also find out what it’s like to work creatively in glass.
The Swedish Glass Museum
Växjö is home to the Swedish Glass Museum, which in common with the House of Emigrants and a number of other museums forms part of Kulturparken Småland. For 80 years, the Swedish Glass Museum has been collecting both glassware and other archive material from glassworks around Sweden and from one of the leading museums in Europe. The approx. 35,000 objects in the collections come from more than 100 different glassworks, with the oldest dating back to the late 16th century. There are two permanent exhibitions: Six Centuries of Swedish Glass 2.0 and Studio Glass in Transformation.
At Grenna Museum, the story of Gränna sits side by side with Sweden’s largest collection of objects relating to polar exploration. The museum’s Polar Centre displays information on expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic, with particular attention being given of course to Gränna-born S. A. Andrée, who in 1897 undertook the first Swedish polar expedition. Although Andrée’s journey to the North Pole by hot-air balloon was ill-fated in many ways, it’s a fascinating story and one of enduring interest.
Jönköping County Museum
This museum of art and cultural history offers exhibitions, an archive, depository, extensive picture archive and a painting conservation studio. The museum brings the county’s cultural heritage to life and appeals to all ages. The museum is best known for its exhibition on the painter and illustrator John Bauer, exploring the many well-loved legends that he illustrated. Website in Swedish.
The Match Museum
The wooden building that once housed Jönköping’s first matchstick factory is now home to the world’s only matchstick museum. Here you can explore the history of the matchstick and meet both the people and the machines that built the matchstick industry. You can watch films, and see the former workers’ dwellings as well as thousands of matchboxes and labels.
Kalmar Country Museum
A visit to Kalmar County Museum is the perfect outing, with things to see and do for children, older people or the whole family. The museum is situated in Ångkvarnen, the old steam mill, in central Kalmar and offers a shop and café as well as the various exhibitions. The themed exhibitions include one on the Swedish warship Kronan, which capsized and sank in June 1676 during an encounter between the Swedish navy and the combined Danish-Dutch fleet. The loss of the Kronan is one of the biggest maritime disasters in Swedish history. Website in Swedish.
Kulturparken Småland comprises several museums and the steamboat Thor. Smålands Museum, home to the Swedish Glass Museum, is Sweden’s oldest provincial museum and boasts extensive collections. The House of Emigrants, with exhibitions including “The Dream of America”, can also be found in the museum park. The Kronoberg Agricultural Museum outside Alvesta is also part of Kulturparken.