Gustavianum's construction history

Gustavianum in the 17th century

Gustavianum is Uppsala University's oldest preserved building. The building was named after Gustav II Adolf, who donated funds and land for a new university building. The commission to design and build the university building went to the Dutch architect Casper Panten. Work began in 1622. When Gustavianum was completed a couple of years later, the building contained a large lecture hall, 26 small student rooms, dining room, kitchen, staff accommodation and printing office. In the basement were the professors' beer and wine stores. In the auditorium, the professors lectured four days a week, and thesis defenses were held on Saturdays. The design of the exterior was different in the 17th century. The building was lower, and on the western facade there was a free staircase that led directly up to the second floor, which was the main floor. Towards the end of the 17th century, Gustavianum's roof was raised by almost three metres. The upper floor, where the student rooms had been, was given full ceiling height, and could accommodate the university library, which needed more space.

Black and white copper engraving with the Gustavianum building in the background and the entrance level in front filled with people.

Gustavianum from Suecia antiqua et hodierna. Copper engraving by Erik Dahlbergh 1625-1703.

Anatomical theater interior

The Anatomical theater in Gustavianum.

Olof Rudbeck's anatomical theatre

In 1662, an extension was started that changed the appearance of Gustavianum. Under the direction of Professor Olof Rudbeck, an anatomical theater was erected on the roof of the house. Rudbeck got the idea from a similar theater in Leyden, in Holland, where he studied. The theater was designed as an amphitheater with standing room for 200 people. On top was placed a globe in the shape of a sundial. The two rows of windows gave the room light and space. Rudbeck's ambition was to raise the level of medical education by introducing anatomical dissections.

Gustavianum in the 18th century

The next major rebuilding took place in the middle of the 18th century under the direction of the castle architect Carl Hårleman. The building was by then quite run down. The roof had been damaged in the great fire of 1702. At the same time, the library required a rebuild. Hårleman gave the rooms a lighter appearance in lighter pastels in pink and grey. To support the load from the library halls, steel columns were set up in Auditorium Majus and Minus on the floor below. The columns are still there today. Hårleman also changed the exterior by removing the free staircase and instead placing two new main entrances on the ground floor. The gates were placed directly under the anatomical theater, which gave the building a more symmetrical appearance.

Painting of the Gustavianum, from the 18th century.

Gustavian Academy. Painting in ink and watercolor by Johan Gustaf Härstedt. 18th century.

Photograph of Gustavianum and The Cathedral Square. 1860s.

Gustavianum and The Cathedral Square. 1860s.

Gustavianum in the 19th century

During the 1840s, Gustavianum underwent yet another reconstruction, led by draftsman Johan Way. The entrance gets its current design with an open stairwell that extends over two floors. By the middle of the 19th century, Gustavianum was largely unused. The library moved when Carolina Rediviva was completed in 1841. When a new university building was inaugurated in 1887, lectures were no longer held in Gustavianum. Instead, the newly formed zoological department moved in. A dramatic intervention was then carried out in the anatomical theatre; a new floor was installed along the top level and the entire interior was dismantled to make way for a new zoological museum.

Gustavianum in the 20th century

In the early 1920s, Gustavianum was renovated and the institutions for Nordic antiquities, classical antiquities, art history, as well as the Victoria Museum and the Uppland Museum took over the building. In 1935, Gustavianum was granted listed building status. Work to rebuild the anatomical theater began in 1950. The dome was refitted and the interior was rebuilt, with the aid of Rudbeck's original drawings. In 1996, the final university departments moved out of Gustavianum, to make room for a new university museum. During the restoration, the library rooms on the main floor were recreated according to Hårleman's drawings. Objects from the university's historical collections were displayed in three permanent exhibitions. Museum Gustavianum was inaugurated in 1997.

Photograph of the Gustavianum.1980s.

Gustavianum. 1980s.

Gustavianums kupol.

Gustavianum in the 21st century

On the last of September 2019, Gustavianum closed once more for a major renovation, with the goal to improve the museum's technical capabilities. Advanced systems for climate, light and digital features will create a modern exhibition environment. Five new permanent exhibitions will focus on ancient Egypt and the cultures around the Mediterranean, about the Dawn of the Viking Age, the history of art and scientific discoveries, along with Rudbeck's anatomical theater and the art cabinet from Augsburg. The new Gustavianum opens its doors on June 24, 2024!

Sal i Gustavianum under evakueringen.