Naturens palats

Author: Jenny Beckman; Kth; []

Keywords: ;

Abstract: This study considers the institutional identities of theSwedish Museum of Natural History (SMNH) from a spatialperspective. The focus is on the decision, in 1904, to move themuseum from its old inner-city building in Stockholm to a newsite in Frescati, north-east of the city. During the debatessurrounding the relocation of the museum, different ideas werearticulated about its precise role as an institution ofresearch, of education, and of entertainment. It becamepossible to redefine the position of the museum, at a time whenits national, scientific, educational, and geographicalcontexts were changing.Depending on the perspective, the relocation of the SMNH canbe seen either as a success or as a failure. It was successfulin the sense that the museum was granted large sums of moneyand considerable Crown lands for the new, monumental buildings.It was a failure in terms of its increased geographical andsocial distance from colleagues and visitors. Through a studyof the relocation project on three different spatial levels,different aspects of the institutional identity of the SMNHcome to light. On a national level, funding and appointmentpolicies reflect the position of the museum withinnineteenth-century cultural politics as well as within academicresearch. Perspectives from human geography and architecturaltheory are used to investigatethe function of the museum on amunicipal and an architectural level. The new location of theSMNH outside central Stockholm is indicative of its status asan academic institution, where visitors were less importantthan research. The struggle surrounding the design of themuseum building reflects different ideas of the function of themuseum. Finally, the design of the exhibitions themselvesidentifies the role of the SMNH in the Swedish system ofeducation.Key words:history of science, history of ideas, historyof biology, history of architecture, museums, education, urbanplanning, Naturhistoriska riksmuseet, 19th century, 20thcentury.

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