the History of the museum

About the Museum

Museum of Gothenburg is located in the East India House from the 1750s and has one of Sweden’s
largest cultural and historical collections.

A Brief History Of The Museum

The Museum of Gothenburg is located in the East India House, which takes up a whole city quarter. The three sides of the building that are built in yellow brick are from the mid-1700s. The fourth part, the Wilson Wing, located at the back of the Museum is from the late 1800s. Here you can read about the history of the Museum and of East India House.

The East India Company

The East India House was once the headquarters of the Swedish East India Company. “East India” in the 1700s meant India and East Asia. The Company was founded in 1731 and its merchants had the right to trade with Asia. The Company sent ships mainly to China, where merchants traded tea, porcelain and other Chinese goods that were then sold in Sweden and Europe.

East India House

After a town fire in Gothenburg, The East India Company bought a whole block where the houses had been destroyed. East India House was finished in 1762 and contained warehouses, offices and an auction hall.

The East India Company Leaving The House

In the early 1800s, trading with China was not profitable anymore. After 1803 no more voyages were made by The East India Company and the Company ceased completely in 1813. East India House was eventually bought by the Swedish government and the City of Gothenburg, and was used for just about everything. Among other things there were such miscellaneous businesses as a granary, a telegraph office and a small natural history museum.

The Gothenburg Museum

In 1861, the Gothenburg Museum was founded. Its inspiration came from the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. The Museum contained everything from stone axes and art collections to the latest agricultural machines. The Museum soon needed more space. In 1889-91 the Museum took over East India House and added a forth section, the Wilson Wing.

New museums were formed

In 1923, Gothenburg celebrated its 300th anniversary. At this time two major departments moved out of the Museum and the Gothenburg Museum of Art and the Gothenburg Museum of Natural History were formed. Cultural history remained. In 1946 the Museum was divided into three departments: the Museum of Archaeology, the Museum of Ethnography and the History Museum.

The Museum of Gothenburg

In 1993 to 1996 the Museum was rebuilt again. The courtyard was lifted to make way for the underground entrance hall. The three museum departments were merged into The Museum of Gothenburg together with The Industrial Museum, The School Museum and The Museum of Theatre History.

Museum of the year 2014

Today the Museum shows exhibitions on the history of Western Sweden and the city of Gothenburg; but also temporary exhibitions, often with current topics. Examples are: “Passages – The International Gothenburg” (2001), “Home and Homelessness” (2007-2008) and “We Are Roma” (2013-14), which became Exhibition of The Year in 2014. The same year the Museum of Gothenburg was awarded the prize Swedish Museum of the Year!