Family standing in a garden
Photo: Tumba Paper Mill Museum/SHM (CC BY).

On view 18 maj 2023 – 29 september 2024. Free admission!

Down to earth

- self sufficiency then and now

The new exhibition Down to earth—self suffiency then and now is based on life at Tumba Paper Mill around the turn of the last century, and how its inhabitants lived self-sufficently. You will also meet people living sustainably today. The exhibition, which is suited for both adults and families, takes place both inside the museum and outside in our beautiful parks and gardens.

Once upon a time there was a shortage of food in Sweden. People grew their own peas, cabbage and potatoes. A pig or some sheep provided meat. Fruit and berries from the forest and garden provided enjoyment and valuable supplements. The exhibition tells the story of the people who lived at the mill and the care and planning that was required all year round to set food on the table. What was it like living at the Tumba Paper Mill two hundred years ago?

Självhushållning på Tumba bruk.
Händer håller morötter i ett grönsaksland

Photo: Jens Mohr, Tumba Paper Mill Museum/SHM.

What does someone who's self-sufficient look like?

Perhaps like Johanna Pettersson, who lived at the Tumba Paper Mill in the early twentieth century. Or perhaps like the Andersson Family, standing proudly in their garden. Or perhaps like Elin Östensson, who moved into a cottage in the countryside of Vingåker, Sweden in the spring of 2022.

Most people in Sweden were self-sufficient in Johanna Pettersson’s day. Food was scarce in those days. Now everything is available to buy – but almost half of all food available in Sweden is produced in other countries.

At the same time, more and more people are wanting to know where their food comes from. To cuddle a lamb and enjoy eggs laid by their own hens. Many people are worried about our modern way of life, and its effect the planet.

We don’t know much about Johanna, but you’ll get to meet a few other self-sufficient people in our exhibition. Past and present. In Tumba and elsewhere.

Johanna Pettersson
A family standing in a garden
Elin Östensson

We invite visitors to reflect on how to live a good life in a sustainable society.

Elin Ekeroth Kjellgren, Museum Director, Tumba Paper Mill Museum.

Some brief history

At the end of the nineteenth century, there were approximately eighty garden allotments on the paper mill's land. The outbreak of the World War Two meant a boost to self-sustainability at Tumba Paper Mill. 

The park became a farm

When World War Two broke out in 1939, food was scarce and many goods were rationed. This meant you weren't allowed to buy more than a certain amount of some things. So the people at the paper mill did what they were used to doing - they grew their own food. Meat was particularly hard to come by. Many people started to breed rabbits in cages in the garden. And almost the entire park was used for growing food, except for one part where two hundrer soldiers lived in tents. Their job was to protect production of banknote paper if the enemy invaded.

Stockholm’s first Konsum store

The Konsum shop at Tumba Paper Mill was established circa 1887, making it one of Sweden's oldest Konsum stores and one of the first in the Stockholm region.

The mill workers ran it themselves and employed a manager. Only mill employees were allowed to shop in the store. They could buy things here that they couldn’t get anywhere else: coffee, sugar, salted herring, sweets and more. But only paper mill workers were allowed to buy things from the shop. In the late 1940s, it was converted into one of the first supermarkets in the country with two shopping carts. Customers had to use ration coupons during World War Two.

Tumba bruksmuseum_Jordnära_TOPPBILD_1920x1080_GRÖN
Tumba bruksmuseum_Jordnära_960x1080_GRÖN

Photo: Tumba Paper Mill Museum/SHM (CC BY)

Explore the outdoor exhibition

The exhibition takes place in the Oxhuset building as well as the surrounding parks and gardens. We have an herb garden, a kitchen garden, a school garden, and beehives. Have a seat in our family-friendly lounge area "Lilla konsum" where young visitors can play.

Historic gardens and allotments

At the end of the nineteenth century, there were approximately eighty allotments on the paper mill's land. The outbreak of the World War Two meant a boost to self-sustainability at Tumba Paper Mill. “Everything was cultivated. There were no lawns," says Curt Carlsson, who lived most of his life at the mill.

Explore the gardens

Our bees

Behind the Oxhuset building you will find our beehives with honey bees. The honey produced by the bees is available for purchase in the museum shop. In the summer we will offer bee safaris, guided tours of the beehives (in Swedish).

The scarecrow

In the garden you can see a scarecrow built by participants at Botkyrka Day center. The original comes from Ripsa, Sörmland, and was designed in the beginning of the twentieth century.

Visit the museum at your own pace

Three illustrated figures. One with a hoe, one riding on a bird, and one with a bee and a honey jar.
Mini figures. Illustration: Sanna Norman, Tumba Paper Mill Museum/SHM.

An exhibition for children and families

Meet the mini figures

Children can follow small figures through the various parts of the exhibition and reflect on their quirky thoughts about our society. There is a childrens audio guide in Swedish.

Lilla konsum

Have a seat in our family-friendly outdoor lounge area called "Lilla konsum" where younger visitors can play store.

Ice saw

The exhibition shows different methods of handling ingredients and food to make it last longer. In the early to mid 1900s, large blocks of ice were sawed up from a nearby lake and transported by horse and sleigh to various locations in the mill area. This made it possible to keep food fresh even during the summer. In the exhibition you can see the saw that was used. It is in the collections at Tumba Paper Mill Museum.

Art installation

See the research-based art installation ”The Subterranean Ones”, by artists Janna Holmstedt and Karin Wegsjö. Visitors can see microbes (bacteria, amoeba, fungi and miniscule worms) in a whole new way.

About the research project

Children in a garden holding carrots

Programs and activities

During summer 2023 we will offer programs and activities in Swedish, which connect to the exhibition: bee safaris, guided tours for families, and a children's trail.

See activities on our Swedish calendar page

Accessbility in the exhibition

The exhibition is on display in Oxhuset, the museum's main building, with entrance, shop and mill café. Oxhuset has two toilets, one of which is accessible, and a changing table. The exhibition is located on the upper floor, which can be accessed by both stairs and a lift. The indoor part of the exhibition is accessible for both prams and wheelchairs. The outdoor part of the exhibition is partially accessible (uneven terrain).

The Oxhuset building
Oxhuset. Photo: Tumba Paper Mill Museum/SHM (CC BY).

Visiting us with children?

The Tumba Paper Mill Museum is a child- and family-friendly museum. A perfect outing for families close to Stockholm!

Photo: Jens Mohr, Tumba Paper Mill Museum/SHM.

Our restaurant and café

The exhibition's theme continues through the restaurant and café. We use and organic, local ingredients, some of which have been grown in the museum gardens! We serve homemade baked goods, hot and cold drinks, and light lunches. Please enjoy our outdoor seating (weather permitting).

Photo: Erik Lernestål, Tumba Paper Mill Museum/SHM.

Strategic Partnerships

In conjunction with the exhibition, Tumba Paper Mill Museum has entered into collaboration with AB Botkyrkabyggen and the Stockholm Consumer Cooperative Society.

AB Botkyrkabyggen

Botkyrkabyggen supports the Tumba Paper Mill Museum in the portion of the exhibition that includes the school garden and educational program for primary schools. Together we reach our prioritized target group, allowing Botkyrkabyggen to contribute to increased knowledge about sustaininability.

To their website

Stockholm Consumer Cooperative Society

A collaboration with the Tumba Paper Mill Museum enables us to offer family activities in connection with the exhibition. Being a contemporary smart consumer means being informed by the past, especially when it comes to food production.

To their website

You may also be interested in: