Swedes are proud of their cultural heritage. The late arrival of industrialization helped to preserve fine craftsmanship, and the aesthetic standards of industrial design, even for mass-produced articles, are high. Modest homes are often furnished in sophisticated taste. Until modern times Sweden’s relative poverty and isolation limited its role in European artistic life. Gifted Swedes often had to seek outlets for their talents abroad. Only in the late 19th century did any aspect of Swedish culture become influential internationally. Today, artistic activities receive large state subsidies, and corporations and local governments generously support painters, sculptors, musicians, and architects.
Sweden has many libraries, including public and county libraries and research libraries connected with universities, institutes, and state museums. Among the largest libraries are those of the universities of Uppsala, Göteborg , Lund, and Stockholm; the Royal Library and the library of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, both in Stockholm; and the city libraries of Göteborg and Stockholm. Most of Sweden’s large cities have museums. The best-known museum is the National Museum in Stockholm. It holds Sweden’s largest collection of fine arts. Other notable museums are the Skansen, an outdoor museum with displays of rural life; the Contemporary Art Museum; the Vasa Museum; and the Swedish Museum of Natural History. Also of interest are the Göteborg Art Gallery and, in Lund, the Cultural History Museum. Swedes have made many outstanding contributions in the areas of science, invention, and engineering. Carolus Linnaeus, a Swedish naturalist, originated the scientific classification of plants and animals.
Baron Jöns Jakob Berzelius developed the modern system of symbols and formulas in chemistry. John Ericsson was the inventor of the screw propeller and designed and built the famous American warship Monitor. Emanuel Swedenborg was an accomplished scientist who made important contributions to mathematics, chemistry, and other scientific fields before achieving even greater fame as a theologian. Among other Swedish inventions are safety matches, ball bearings, milk and cream separators, steam turbines, automated sea beacons, and refrigerators.
Among the most famous of all Swedes is Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite and smokeless gunpowder, who established the Nobel Prizes. According to the instructions in his will, Nobel Prizes are awarded every year to those who have “conferred the greatest benefit on mankind” in the fields of chemistry, physics, physiology and medicine, literature, and peace. In 1968 the Sveriges Riksbank, the central bank of Sweden, created a sixth Nobel award for the field of economics.
Swedish art originated in the Bronze Age (1500-500 bc). Ornaments dating from this period reveal an independent artistic style. Stone sculptures on the island of Gotland date to about ad 500. The arts, especially sculpture, flourished in connection with the construction of churches from about 1100 to 1350. Since the Middle Ages, broader trends in Europe have profoundly influenced the direction of Swedish art. Prominent Swedish artists of the 18th century included painters Carl Gustav Pilo and Alexander Roslin and sculptor Johan Tobias von Sergel. Significant artists of the 19th century included Carl Fredrik Hill and Ernst Josephson. Internationally recognized artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were painters Anders Leonhard Zorn and Carl Larsson. Carl Milles was an acclaimed sculptor of the 20th century.
Swedish folk arts, including wood carvings and decorative arts, are widely admired. Modern Swedish home furnishings and Swedish glassware and silverware are known internationally. IKEA, a large Swedish furniture company, is world-famous for its inexpensive and simply designed household goods. Orrefors is a center noted for its artistry in making crystal vases and stemware. In architecture, Sweden developed the medieval log cabin, which was widely copied in the United States in the 17th century. However, major architectural advances, including the movement toward functionalism, were not made until the late 19th century. Since then, internationally noted Swedish architects have included Ragnar Östberg, Erik Gunnar Asplund, and Sven Gottfrid Markelius.
In literature, playwright and writer August Strindberg is probably Sweden’s best-known figure. Swedish authors to win a Nobel Prize in literature include novelist Selma Lagerlöf; novelist, poet, and playwright Pär Lagerkvist; and author Harry Martinson. Astrid Lindgren is known to children in many countries as the author of the famous Pippi Longstocking (Pippi Långstrump) series of children’s novels. Vilhelm Moberg won recognition for his books about Swedish immigrants in the United States. "Sweden" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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