Second House of Sweden -- Sweden's embassy in the virtual world of Second Life -- has opened its doors to the public. Sweden's Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt this morning cut the ribbon at an inauguration ceremony broadcast simultaneously to press conferences in Stockholm and in Budapest.

Second House of Sweden is inspired by the real-life House of Sweden in Washington, D.C., which houses the Embassy of Sweden to the United States. The setting for the virtual embassy is the picturesque Stockholm Archipelago.

Inside and around the Second House of Sweden there is a wealth of exhibits and information. Some examples:

  • A recreation of Raoul Wallenberg's office in Budapest, with a re-enactment of his last day of freedom on January 16, 1945. (In cooperation with the OSA Archivum in Budapest)
  • An art exhibit, curated by Nationalmuseum in Stockholm
  • Royalty-free images of Sweden, fact sheets about politics, industry, design, art as well as virtual Swedish food, with real recipes attached
  • Throughout the region, listen to Radio Sweden's daily news podcasts in English
  • Furniture by Swedish wood manufacturers and IKEA -- some of which visitors can use to furnish their virtual homes in Second Life.

"The role of the Swedish Institute is to generate goodwill and confidence in Sweden. As the media landscape changes, so does the way people gather information. It is important for us to be a part of these developments," says Olle Wastberg, Director-General for the Swedish Institute.

Second House of Sweden has already generated great interest both in Sweden and abroad, according to Stefan Geens, project leader at the Swedish Institute: "Now that we have a platform in Second Life to promote the culture and lifestyle of Sweden, many Swedish companies and organizations are interested in collaborating. Discussions are underway with a number of potential partners, including Karolinska Institutet and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency."