On a rainy day in Boden, or an overly warm one, not too uncommon during our subarctic summers, we can recommend a visit to Havremagasinet. It is by far one of Sweden’s largest art galleries, spanning 3,600 square metres over six floors. Here, a foundation of local cultural history meets contemporary Nordic and international art and themes.
Havremagasinet in Boden is a magnificent stone building towering over the birch alley, lining one of roads entering Boden. On both sides there are more towering buildings, built in the characteristic style used when the military city of Boden was founded, to complement the Boden Fortress. “The Lock in the North”, which was to protect Sweden from an Eastern invasion.
Back then, the cavalry was an important part of our armed forces and oats for the many horses in the Boden region were stored in Havremagasinet, literally The Oat Warehouse. Havremagasinet was designed with an impressive technological detail, to allow the oats to be transported from floor to floor.
The Boden School
When the Armed Forces moved into Boden they brought people and influences creating a rich cultural life in the growing city. Art was given a prominent role, not least through the so called Boden School. It was the name of a group of 14 artists, of whom many became well established and were able to make a living from their art. They are an important part of art history in Norrbotten County and they created the foundation for Norrbotten’s contemporary art scene.
In 2010, the doors to Havremagasinet were opened once again, light flooded the six, large stories, transformed through careful remodelling into a unique art gallery, which immediately drew international attention.
In 2010, the doors to Havremagasinet were opened once again, light flooded the six, large stories, transformed through careful remodelling into a unique art gallery, which immediately drew international attention. Between the massive wooden pillars of the former warehouse sections, the opening exhibition “Ryssen kommer” was displayed, alongside the exhibition “Till häst”, exploring the impact that the horses kept by the Armed Forces had on our city.
The exhibitions during the opening summer created a link between topical international questions and the history of Boden, spreading the word about this new art gallery all over the world.
“Since then our reputation as a gallery with which it is interesting to foster connections has allowed us to continue to exhibit exciting artists and subjects here.”, explains Ricky Sandberg, Gallery Manager.
International subjects and Norrbotten folk art coexist side by side in exhibitions that will tug on your heartstrings.
Work continues all year round with new exhibitions every spring and autumn. International subjects and Norrbotten folk art coexist side by side in exhibitions that will tug on your heartstrings. They provoke a wide spectrum of emotions, from anger to powerlessness in topical protest art, to tales of warmth and friendship between people all over the world. Here, the artists of the Boden School are also exhibited, we have been able to follow stories about liberation and the fall of dictatorships, the reorientation from a Swedish defense against the East to Swedish peacekeepers being sent to zones of conflict in the Middle East – and the wondrous forces of nature, just to name a few examples.
Havremagasinet has thousands of visitors every year.
Experiences over several floors
Havremagasinet is, not without reason, sometimes referred to as “the Fotografiska of Norrbotten”. In addition to the fact that the location and the history of the building is interesting in itself and that art brings new perspectives to our lives, there are a number of activities for all ages – art treasure hunts, creative workshops and lots of fun for the entire family. Havremagasinet is also an exciting place for cultural events and creativity of all kinds such as music, film, photography and singing. Havremagasinet also works extensively with pedagogical events and schools. One thing to recommend is their café where you can linger and take in even more of the atmosphere of this amazing, historical facility.
For those interested in the technology used in Havremagasinet during its military glory days, there is a permanent exhibition on the subject.
Text: Anna Bergström
Photo: Petra Älvstrand
- County art gallery located in Boden, 3,600 square metres over six floors.
- The building was designed by architect Erik Josephson and completed in 1911-12.
- A total of 288 wooden pillars carried the weight of an entire garrison’s grain supply in the early 1900’s.
- Oats were stored in large grain containers and a clever mechanism was used to move the containers between floors. A remote thermometer warned if temperatures were too high and the grain was then moved to another floor.
- The storage of grain for the Armed Forces ceased in 1950.
- In 2001, Havremagasinet was listed for preservation.
- Since 2010, Havremagasinet has been home to one of the largest art galleries in Sweden. The light colours of the building combined with the fact that it lets in a lot of light results in a very contemporary modern feeling.
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