Document archive

The document archive at the Museum of Ethnography is the basis for our understanding of the museum collections and the historical role of the museum. The document archive includes among other things catalogues and lists of collections, documents and object drawings, correspondence with collectors and researchers, press cuttings as well as personal and public records.

The history of the Museum of Ethnography

The Museum of Ethnography began with the donation of object collections by the Royal Academy of Sciences at the time of its establishment in 1739. The Royal Academy of Sciences continued to manage the collections until these were incorporated into the collections of the Museum of Natural History. In 1841, the ethnographic collections became part of the Department of Vertebrate – the Department of Ethnography was not formed until 1900.

Vertebratavdelningen på RiksmuseetFollowing a parliamentary decision in 1930, the department was relocated to the former barracks of the Swedish Royal Life Guards Dragoons on the north side of Djurgården. On 1 July 1935, the National Ethnographic Museum was established as an independent institution under the direction of the Royal Academy of Sciences. The barracks on Djurgården were converted into museum premises, which in 1938 opened its doors and exhibitions to the public.

Relations with the Royal Academy of Sciences and Museum of Natural History came to an end on 30 June 1966 when the museum became an independent institution under the name of the Museum of Ethnography with a Board appointed by His Majesty, the King of Sweden. At the same time, the direct connection with Stockholm University ceased. However, the Museum of Natural History continued to manage the financial side of things until 30 June 1972.

The old barracks were eventually demolished and a new museum constructed at Museivägen. The gradual process of moving to the new premises began in August 1978 and the museum opened its doors to the public for the first time in November 1980.

In 1988, the museum authority changed name to Folkens Museum Etnografiska (the National Ethnographic Museum).

About the museum archive

Much of the archival material is directly linked to objects and the cataloguing of these. Former directors of the Etnografiska museet were themselves part of the scientific community and the documents they left behind are composed of official correspondence but also of research material from various field trips and expeditions.

When the new authority of the National Museums of World Culture was established in 1999, the National Ethnographic Museum (Folkens Museum Etnografiska) ceased as an independent institution and the museum resumed its former name, the Museum of Ethnography/Etnografiska museet, in 2001. The new authority of the National Museums of World Culture is made up of one management office and four museums: The Museum of Ethnography/Etnografiska museet, the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities/Medelhavsmuseet, the Museum of World Culture/Världskulturmuseet and the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities/Östasiatiska museet.

Despite directorship and name changes, the historical importance of the museum must not be disrupted. The museum archive is often administratively seen as a single unit. Following talks with the National Archives, it was decided that the museum archive and its archival inventory should continue as a single unit despite previous directorship and name changes.