Umedalen Skulpturpark is one of Europe’s most prominent sculpture parks, located 5km fromt the town centre of Umeå, in the Umedalen area. Umedalen was built in the 1930s as a mental hospital area, but was phased out and sold by Västerbotten County Council in 1987 to real estate company Balticgruppen, nowadays renamed to Fort Knox.
Fort Knox chose to transform and develop the old health care institution to a modern and attractive area for living and working. As part of its ambition to change the connotation of the area’s charged name – leading many Swedes to think of mental illness – the company, in collaboration with Galleri Andersson/Sandström, created the art project Umedalen Skulptur; the gallery to be responsible for the artistic content and Fort Knox for funding the project.
The first exhibition was held in the summer of 1994 and became a huge success, which meant a continued series of summer exhibitions each year until the millennium. From the year 2000, Umedalen Skulptur was turned into a biennale, and was held every second year up to 2012.
Over the years, almost two hundred prominent Swedish and international artists have exhibited their work in the park of the former hospital area. Fort Knox has bought many of the sculptures, to be added to the park’s permanent collection. This means that there is now an impressive collection in the park, consisting of fourty-four permanent works by Miroslaw Balka, Louise Bourgeois, Tony Cragg, Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor and Clay Ketter to name a few.
Thanks to the art project Umedalen Skulptur, the Umedalen park today is one of the county’s main tourist attractions with over 20,000 visitors each summer. What makes Umedalen Skulptur unique is above all the artworks in the collection. The work of the prominent sculptors which forms the collection is usually presented to visitors in highly guarded international museum and biennials contexts, not as part of a park which also gives space to kindergartens, libraries, pharmacies and northern pines.
Another unique point is the fact that it is an entirely privately funded initiative, that it is open and accessible to everyone around the clock, all year long and free of charge.
Umedalen Skulptur has received considerable attention and numerous awards. These include:
Magazines of Sweden Best European art event in Sweden in 2000, Culture and Enterprise’s first prize for best cultural sponsorship in 2004, Council of Urban Planning’s 2006 prize for the best example of art and design in the public domain and the Umeå region tourism price in 2007.
NUMBER OF EXHIBITIORS SINCE 1994:
NUMBER OF ARTWORKS IN BALTICGRUPPEN’S PERMANENT
COLLECTION AT UMEDALEN:
NUMBER OF VISITORS ANUALLY:
Around 20 000 visitors
OPENING HOURS :
24/7, all through the year
None. It is a public park and everyone is welcome!