Susanna Pettersson, Director General, shares her thoughts and own experiences of research. She talks about research at Nationalmuseum right now and suggests a video about the study that was done to prepare for conservation and restoration of Carl Larsson’s A Studio Idyll.
My favourite places are archives and libraries (and of course museums too!). That’s where I’m usually at my happiest; when I get to write, sit quietly with archival material, read books, think, find connections, and explore new material. The feeling you get when you can really contribute new information and knowledge is absolutely fantastic. To be motivated by curiosity, the desire to learn more. This unites all researchers, irrespective of what they are studying or are otherwise engaged in.
Early collectors in 16th century Europe saw the link between objects and knowledge. It was not infrequent that studiolos (from the Italian, meaning little studio) were set up in the collections, rooms intended for reading, studying and writing. It was understood that the more one knew, the more powerful and trustworthy one was. This long tradition with research continues even today, and Nationalmuseum is a good example of this.
Nationalmuseum has a long history of research projects and talented researchers. The collections of paintings, sculpture, and design and applied arts, as well as a rich archive and a library bursting with material, offer outstanding possibilities. The research may be anything from on an individual artist, epoch or style to material research, provenances or art history, or any of multitudes of different possibilities. Our ongoing research projects include Italian paintings in Nationalmuseum (market, musealisation and materiality), Nordic female sculptors 1880–1920, English portrait miniatures, Carl Gustaf Tessin’s travel diaries as well as history painting and national subjects.
One of the Museum’s latest research publications is Anna Bortolozzi’s Italian Architectural Drawings from the Cronstedt Collection, Nationalmuseum (2020), which was published in collaboration with the German publisher Hatje Cantz Verlag, and very soon Margareta Gynning’s book Transformative Meetings – Nationalmuseum’s collections from a feminist perspective, will be published. Our future publications also include Magnus Olausson’s book about Nationalmuseum’s collection of miniatures, which is the largest in the world.
The collections and new acquisitions are discussed in detail in the scholarly publication Art Bulletin of Nationalmuseum Stockholm, where a selection of objects is presented in article form. The Art Bulletin is published digitally annually and is free of charge, which means that information about the collections and new research can be disseminated to more people all over the world. The authors of the articles are usually the Museum’s curators and researchers. The Art Bulletin can be both read and downloaded via Nationalmuseum’s website.
But how is this work financed, work that in such an important way contributes to the discussion of art history? Usually this is accomplished via external funding. The Art Bulletin, for instance, is funded by the Friends of Nationalmuseum, the association that supports the Museum’s activities by contributing acquisitions and scholarships. Several of our research projects and individual researchers receive financial support from various foundations and we work together in collaboration with several universities both in Sweden and abroad.
To be able to continue explore our collections in a scholarly manner, we are actively working to increase external funding. The intention behind this is simply to establish better preconditions for the activities now and in the future. One good example of this is the Donor Circle, which was founded at the end of 2019 on the initiative of Eva Qviberg, Chair of the Friends of Nationalmuseum 2009-2020. The Donor Circle contributes to the Museum’s activities by funding conservation and research into conservation and restoration of artwork. The first project involved conservation efforts of Carl Larsson’s A Studio Idyll (1885) so that Nationalmuseum will be able to exhibit show the artwork to the public again in the near future. And we’re all really looking forward to it! Until then it is possible to watch a video about the study that was done to prepare for conservation and restoration of the artwork (in Swedish).
//Susanna Pettersson, Director General, Nationalmuseum