About us

A bold idea with a view to the future. A unique building anchored in history. All in the most unexpected of places.

Renzo Piano

Renzo Piano (b. 1937), the architect behind Vandalorum, values the site highly. The place where his architecture should be part of the future. He values and allows himself to be inspired by the local materials and building techniques. Therefore, his museums are not based on a preconceived idea but “grow out of the ground.”

On the site of Vandalorum, between Värnamo and one of the busiest roads in the country, once lay a hay drying barn of impressive dimensions, painted red and with an ingenious roof construction. This barn, in its drawings, the Renzo Piano Building Workshop has multiplied into eleven barns, placed in a ring for a natural walking tour through exhibitions and other functions and with a protective courtyard for all kinds of activities.

Piano is a master of light with demands for ideal conditions for our experiences. Vandalorum is therefore not only a work of art in itself, but is characterized by functionality and quality.

Piano is the architect behind several other museums such as the Centre Pompidou in Paris (together with Richard Rorgers), the Fondation Beyeler in Riehen, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Centro Botin in Santander, the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, and the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo.

Sven Lundh

Sven Lundh (1925—2015), initiator of Vandalorum, grew up in Lagan, north of Ljungby in Småland. On his way from school, aged 15, he caught sight of the artist Sven Ljungberg, who was standing and painting by the roadside. An experience that took forever hold in him for the importance of art and form, where the subject in reality, a shrubby gravel pit, was given a much better identity on Ljungberg's oil-painted canvas.

Lundh's interest in art was aroused. He attended painting classes for local artists. Went to exhibitions and made contacts. Met his wife Kerstin and settled in Värnamo in 1947.

Together with artists in Småland, the gallery was started The Mirror in Värnamo during the mid-50s and Lundh took a job as a salesman in a clothing store. He was a man for men's clothing when it was needed and was constantly interested in how he dressed.

Furniture designer Yngve Ekström engaged Lundh as a seller for furniture from the company “De Fem Fabrikarna” and the launch of the Lamino sheepskin armchair took off. It went well. Lundh later also became an agent for Danish producers of furniture designed by Hans J. Wegner and Mogens Koch. In Värnamo there was already Bruno Mathsson, with whom Lundh worked through all the years.

At the same time, Lundh contributed to a regional strengthening of art life in Småland through the formation of the Smålands Artists' Association in 1958 and later the Smålands Art Archive in 1964. This was long before municipalities and county councils had formed cultural councils and strategies for the arts in society. Together with the artists, Lundh realized the need for context and places where cultural encounters could take place. He is said to have compiled nearly 500 exhibits during his lifetime.

The company Källemo restarted Lundh in 1971 in Värnamo with the concept of furniture, which carries quality in a strong idea, rather than volume and price. In collaboration with many companies in the area, the production of the designers' innovative designs was solved.

Lundh had the idea for Vandalorum as early as 1984 with strong encouragement from the Artists' Association and the Art Archive. With Renzo Piano's idea, construction began in the winter of 2010.

In Sven Lundh we found a man who stuck to what he believed in, stubborn and persistent, but always resourceful. He saw opportunity, when it was most impossible.

The history

Vandalorum opened to the public in 2011, but the museum has a long and exciting history.

The name

The name Vandalorum comes from the museum man Pontus Hultén who was involved in the project at an early stage. Hultén made a major exhibition in 2001 at the Knäppfabriken in Värnamo called “Den sanna historie om Vandals” and which presented the idea that the wandering people Vandals would have a historical connection to Småland. Hultén received the genitive form “Vandalorum” from the memorial stone of Queen Christina in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, where it says Svecorum Gothorum et Vandalorum Reginae — that is, that she was Queen of the Swedes, Goths and Vandals. Today the word Venderas is preferred, but it is uncertain whether it is the same people referred to.

Småland Art Archive

Picture from the exhibition Hunters & Collectors with Richard Johansson, 2022, photo: Nora Bencivenni

The Småland Art Archive is today located within and cooperates with Vandalorum as an independent foundation. The Art Archive's activities include 5 exhibitions per year, most of which are self-produced. The Småland Art Archive was founded in Värnamo in 1964 and has since created a significant collection of art by artists from the 1920s to our own time who are or have been associated with Småland. The collection of about 1500 works is housed in the Study Archive at Vandalorum. The collection includes works by Ann Margret Dahlquist-Ljungberg, Erik Dietman, Maria Bang-Espersen, Sten Dunér, Vera Nilsson, Magnus Bärtås, Sven Ljungberg och Julia Bondesson.

The Småland Art Archive is run as a foundation with principals from Värnamo Municipality, Region Jönköping County, the Regional Association of Southern Småland and the Smålands Artists' Association. The chairman of the foundation is Karin Lundh.