Artur Hazelius (1833 – 1901)

Artur Hazelius founded the open air museum called Skansen at Stockholm, which has given its name to collections of buildings that have been scientifically removed from their original sites in many European countries.

Hazelius was the son of a military officer, was educated at the University of Uppsala and gained his first employment as a teacher. In 1869-71 he was involved with the production of a dictionary of the Swedish language that involved him in extensive travels through his native country during which he developed a lively interest in folk lore.

In 1872 he established a museum for Swedish ethnography, which has evolved into the present-day Nordiska Museet. After seeing the collection of buildings assembled from 1881 in Oslo (then Christiana) by King Oskar II , he began to acquire buildings as well as artefacts, and in 1891 established a museum on Djurgarden, an island in Stockholm harbour that came to be called Skansen (i.e. fortifications) since the island had once been defended.

Hazelius combined a deep patriotism and Romantic views of the past, similar to those of contemporary composers and poets, with practical abilities and political insights that enabled him to achieve so much. He collected buildings from all parts of Sweden and was insistent that they should be filled with appropriate furniture, and that workshops should be equipped with appropriate tools. While his ambition was to show Swedish society before industrialisation, the buildings in Skansen show that the move towards an industrial society was gradual, and that ironmaking, glassmaking and the production of furniture and linen cloth had origins that extend from long before the mid-19th century.

As a museologist Hazelius has had a powerful influence on the presentation of the industrial heritage throughout Europe that extends to the present day.