Art, heritage and pretty parks - Värmland has it all

Everywhere you go in Värmland, you can enjoy cultural attractions, historical sites, and beautiful parks and gardens.

Art that tells a story

Värmland boasts a wealth of museums, art galleries and other cultural treasures. The ever-changing mix of permanent and temporary exhibitions means a return visit is always worth it. And don’t miss the opportunity to visit local artists at work on open studio days.

The Värmland Museum at Sandgrundsudden in the centre of Karlstad has about a dozen permanent exhibitions covering 10,000 years of regional history – from the time the first hunter-gatherers set foot in the region to the 20th century with its moon landings. The museum’s art gallery features the works of Värmland artists and up to 10 temporary exhibitions annually. There is also a large, well-stocked museum shop.

The Värmland Museum has several branch museums: the Dyvelsten log rafting museum, the von Echstedt estate, the mining village of Långban, and Torsby Finnskogscentrum, which features the heritage of the Forest Finns who settled in the area.

A stone’s throw from the museum, Sandgrund is a former dance hall that has been transformed into a gallery for the works of Lars Lerin, Sweden’s greatest living watercolourist. Lerin regularly invites guest artists to display their works in a dedicated temporary exhibition space.

The next leg of your tour might take you to the Rackstad Museum in Arvika, a lakeside town that was once home to a colony of artists. Their works are notable for distinctive lighting, dark settings and fin de siècle melancholy. But this is much more than an art museum. There’s also a fabulous park and gardens, well-preserved artists’ homes, and a charming restaurant and cafe. The Rackstad Museum aims to be a welcoming venue for meetings, activities and personal development.

Meet Värmlanders from history

What do the famous author Selma Lagerlöf, the Forest Finns and Alfred Nobel have in common? Well, the places where they once lived and worked have been preserved and now welcome visitors wishing to learn more about them and their lives.

On the eastern shore of Lake Fryken, south of Sunne, is Mårbacka, where Selma Lagerlöf was born and raised. The farm passed out of family ownership when Selma’s father died, but thanks to her success as an author, she was later able to buy it back. In her will, she declared that Mårbacka was to be preserved as it was at the time of her death and opened to the public as a memorial. Courtesy of Selma, you can still visit the beloved places of her childhood and feel like a character in one of her stories.

Finnskogen, the Finn Forests, is the name given to the areas bordering Norway in northwestern Värmland. Features in the landscape have survived to tell the story of how Finnish settlers brought their slash-and-burn method of agriculture to Värmland in the 17th century. In the district of Torsby, over 30 charcoal burner’s huts have been preserved, 10 of which remain intact in their original location. 7-torpsleden is a waymarked hiking trail that takes visitors to several of the homesteads of the Forest Finns.

In the summer of 2014, Torsby Finnskogscentrum, a branch of the Värmland Museum, opened in its new location in Lekvattnet. The centre is focused on the cultural heritage and unique human stories of the Forest Finns. The museum and exhibits feature the legacy of the Finns and their slash-and-burn forestry – as well as other groups that inhabited and shaped the boundless forest landscape of the North.

In Karlskoga you can meet Alfred Nobel, perhaps the most famous Swedish person in world history. The Nobel Museum is located in a beautiful setting on the Björkborn estate, where Nobel spent several periods in the final years of his life. Learn all about this scientist and inventor, and visit his personal laboratory where he conducted his experiments. In the summer months, dramatised guided tours bring Nobel’s story to life.

Beautiful parks and gardens 

With its many large estates, and thanks to private donations, Värmland has an abundance of beautiful parks. Many of them welcome visitors, who come to admire the unusually diverse range of horticulture – from gardens in the English tradition to totally natural woodland parks.

Mariebergsskogen, the town park in Karlstad, is a paradise for all the family. Children love visiting the animals at Lillskogen: cute bunnies, ponies, pot-bellied pigs, goats and calves. There is also a playpark and Naturum, a visitor centre providing an introduction to Värmland nature.

In the late 18th century, Lars Magnus Wester owned the Marieberg estate. A manor house was built in 1828 and eventually passed into the ownership of Carl Magnus Höök, an army officer and civil servant. Being unmarried, Höök had no heirs and bequeathed Mariebergsskogen to the city of Karlstad, on condition that the grounds would be cared for and preserved. The city has honoured his request over the years, and Mariebergsskogen has retained its distinctive character.

On a headland in the Klarälven river in the centre of Karlstad, Sandgrundsparken has developed over the years into a popular recreational area. In 2010 the park won the prestigious Siena Prize from Architects Sweden. The citation described it as “a timeless and romantic creation, with well-designed planted areas and terracing. The park incorporates sturdy bridges, wide vistas, and intimate, softly shaped floral spaces.”

Rottneros Park in Sunne is a unique sculpture park with an exciting combination of formal parkscapes, beautiful natural parkland and innovative topiary. It’s a place full of stories and tales, dreams and visions that are just longing to be narrated.

Rottneros manor was the inspiration for Ekeby in The Saga of Gösta Berling by Selma Lagerlöf. In turn, the visionary landowner Svante Påhlson redesigned Rottneros in the mid-1950s to resemble the fictional Ekeby. The park is now managed with the goal of preserving its cultural heritage.

Selma Lagerlöf was born and raised at Mårbacka
Photo credit: Selma Lagerlöf was born and raised at Mårbacka
Selma Lagerlöf was born and raised at Mårbacka