The Stobaeus Project
Beyond curiosity and wonder—understanding the Museum Stobaeanum
Museum Stobaeanum was the first public museum in Lund. Established in the early 18th century, it has its roots in the cabinet of curiosities of Kilian Stobaeus (1690–1742), professor in natural philosophy and history at Lund University. In 1735, Stobaeus donated his collections to Lund University. The earliest preserved inventories from 1753 and 1759 indicate that the museum included a large number of natural history objects as well as ethnographic, culture historical and archeological artefacts gathered by the scholar throughout his life and donated by other benefactors. Today, some of these collections are kept at the following Lund University institutions: Historical Museum, Biological Museum, University Library and Department of Geology.
Aims and research questions
This collaborative project is the first comprehensive study of the Museum Stobaeanum, Killian Stobaeus’ (1690–1742) extensive collection of ethnographic, archeological and natural history objects gathered by the scholar throughout his life and donated to Lund University in 1735, as well as the artefacts added to the collection in the following centuries. The collection consists of several hundred ethnographic and natural history objects from Asia, the Pacific, North America, Greenland and Africa – most of them collected in the 18th and early 19th century in the tradition of Cabinets of Curiosities.
The Museum Stobaeanum, which forms the basis of Lund University Historical Museum (LUHM), offers an excellent lens for understanding Sweden’s global networks and the changing ideas about how to represent the “total world” in a museum. Despite its richness, the collection is poorly researched and little known in Sweden and abroad. The lack of historical information means that currently it is difficult for the public to navigate the exhibit and to understand its content and context. The project aims to overcome these issues. Its outcome will be a full overview of the collection, its history and its socio-cultural settings which will allow for a better understanding of our own historical mediation process.
The aim of the project is threefold: 1) to identify and document the collection, which is currently dispersed between different institutions; 2) to generate much needed historical knowledge about the provenance of the objects and socio-cultural conditions of their acquisition; 3) to open the collection to a wider public and further research.
The Cabinet of Curiosities was donated to the University in 1735 by the physician, scientist and Vice Chancellor Kilian Stobaeus. The donation formed the foundation for several University departments and museums, and the collection grew intensively over the next century. The Stobaeus Project aims to shed light on his life and achievements.