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September 5, 2019 – January 12, 2020
September 5, 2019 – January 12, 2020
​1989 – ​Culture and Politics
Nostalgia if you were there, retro if you weren’t. Ridiculously dated, yet still pressing issues.

This autumn, Nationalmuseum features an exhibition on one of the most dramatic moments in history – the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The exhibition takes a broad look at what happened within the visual culture during the upheavals of 1989. Global outlooks, Swedish perspectives and high politics meet mundane everyday life in an array of documentary photography, portraits, posters, videos and designs.

The Berlin Wall fell on 9 November 1989. The Cold War came to an end and the struggle between liberal capitalism and communism seemed to be over. Eastern Europe was not, however, the only place on earth shaken by political drama. The South African apartheid regime collapsed and on the Tiananmen Square in China, student demonstrations ended with a massacre.

The collapse of communism in Eastern Europe is often seen as the start of global capitalism. Globalisation did not, however, occur only in the field of economics. In 1989, the concept of a World Wide Web was coined at the same time as the first pocket sized mobile telephone was launched. The third edition of the Havana Biennial in 1989 is often described as a milestone in the development towards a globalisation of contemporary art. The late 1980s was also marked by a global tragedy. AIDS, spreading like an epidemic across the world, became a much feared disease.

At the turn of the decades of the 80s and 90s, conflicts about freedom of speech, religious and ethical values flared up in many places. The Iranian leader Khomeini issued a death sentence against Salman Rushdie whilst images by Robert Mapplethorpe caused outrage and protests in the USA. In Sweden, charges were brought against Horst Schröder, publisher of the adult comics magazine ‘POX’, for illegal depictions of violence.

Against this backdrop of social development and political drama, the 1989 exhibition dives into the scene of visual culture at the turn of the 80s and 90s. Global outlooks and Swedish perspectives alternate. High politics meet mundane everyday life – illustrated in the form of political resistance posters from Hungary and former Czechoslovakia, pictures of Mexican immigrants on the border to the United States, modernist furniture designs, abortion rights activism, kitsch aesthetics, music videos and restaurant interiors. Conceptually, the exhibition revolves around notions such as freedom versus lack of freedom, borders versus borderless.

The exhibition includes documentary photography, portraits, posters, videos and designs by artists, photographers and designers such as Richard Avedon, Ron Arad, Cecilia Edefalk, Nan Goldin, Willliam Kentridge, Barbara Kruger, Boris Mikhailov, Tracey Moffatt, Ingrid Orfali, Ingegerd Råman, Philippe Starck, Lars Tunbjörk, Pia Wallén and Andres Serrano.

What happened when?

Se a list of events that took place during 1989.

Exhibition Catalogue

A book with texts by Per Hedström, Anna Charlotta Gunnarson, Kalle Lind, Estelle af Malmborg, Sara Kristoffersson and Andreas Johansson Heinö is also being launched in connection with the exhibition.


  • Standard admission: 150 kr
  • Concessions (seniors and students): 120 kr
  • Free admission for visitors under 20
  • Free admission for members of the Friends of Nationalmuseum
  • Free admission, others: ICOM, ICOMOS, SMI, employees at the Central Museums, the press, personal assistants, authorised guides, tour guides and/together with chauffeurs and teachers with a group of pupils. Evidence entitling to free admission must be displayed.

Please note, last entry to the exhibition 30 minutes before the museum closes.

Purchase your ticket in advance

You are welcome to purchase your ticket in advance. Any remaining tickets are sold on site at the museum. Payment by creditcards and swish only. Holders of free passes and others entitled to free admission are welcome to pre-book tickets to the exhibition.

Dedicated entrance

If there is a queue to get into the museum, visitors with free passes, pre-purchased or pre-booked tickets are welcome to the dedicated entrance. Show your ticket and pass to the host or guard on site. No dedicated queue to the exhibition entrance.

Click here to purchase your exhibition ticket.

Repurchases and rebookings

Nationalmuseum does not repurchase exhibition tickets. Tickets can be rebooked, to a new date or time slot, via our booking system on the website.

See a few of the works on display