Ancient Greece and Rome

The collections of antiquities of Medelhavsmuseet (The Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities) span over a long period of time and include everything from Greek Bronze Age Cycladic figures and Attic vases from around 400 BC to Etruscan votive terracotta objects and marble statues from the Roman Empire.

The museum collections originate from older Swedish collections and in particular, the large collection of antiquities of the National Museum. Royal collections of antiquities, mainly Roman sculptures and coins, existed in Sweden as early as in the 17th century. The 18th century saw an increased interest in antiquities and King Gustav III accumulated a large collection, which after his death was kept at the Royal Palace in Stockholm. This was the beginning of the Royal Museum, which opened its doors to the general public in 1794. When the National Museum moved into its new premises in 1866, the collection of antiquities of King Gustav III was relocated there. Parts of the collection were later moved to Drottningholm Palace. However, the sculptures were returned to the Royal Palace in 1958 in conjunction with the opening of King Gustav III's Museum of Antiquities.

The vases acquired from Italy by King Gustav III were eventually moved to Medelhavsmuseet and now form an important part of the Greco-Roman collections. To Medelhavsmuseet was also transferred the Asine Collection with objects from the Swedish excavations of the Greek Bronze Age city of Asine in Argolis in the 1920s. Medelhavsmuseet has since 1957 looked after the so-called comparative collections of the Museum of National Antiquities, which consist of antiquities from the Mediterranean and Middle East acquired by Swedish diplomats and travellers.

The archaeology enthusiast King Gustav VI Adolf was a keen collector of objects from the ancient world and it was because of his advocacy and contributions that the museum was able to increase its collections from Greece, Etruria and Rome among others. When King Gustav VI Adolf died in 1973, most of his collection of antiquities was bequeathed to Medelhavsmuseet.