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Ancient objects: a research resource

2015-11-20

The collections include Stone Age axes.

Last year, the University’s collections were moved into newly renovated premises, becoming more accessible to researchers and teachers. ‘The aim is for them to be infrastructure for both research and education,’ says Marika Hedin, Museum Gustavianum’s director.

The ground floor and basement of the Museum of Evolution in Villavägen are now full of objects from the University’s collections. Palaeontological items and the huge fauna and flora collection are already in place.

All the collections except art and coins have now been relocated here. Archaeological finds and scientific instruments are on display and the anatomical collections, with skeleton parts from around the world, are behind locked doors.

‘Parts of the collections are controversial and ethically challenging, and we follow international guidelines on how to make them accessible. There are delicate decisions to be made and it’s good for us, with our museum background, to handle them,’ says Marika Hedin.

The move to the Evolutionary Biology Centre is part of Gustavianum’s new remit, to enable the University’s collections to serve as infrastructure for research and education alike. Open and staffed on a year-round basis, the premises offer worktables and seminar rooms for anyone wishing to study the material.

Hedin welcomes visiting researchers, although what they are allowed to do with historical materials in the name of science may be debatable.

‘The first principle is to conserve, but some analyses are destructive. That’s why we need a clear set of rules.’

Currently, for example, the archaeological collection from Valsgärde, with its unique Viking finds (see article, next page), is being investigated.

‘Our cultural heritage is absolutely magnificent, and I hope it will be used much more from now on and from new angles,’ Hedin says.