China and Sweden: Treasured Memories
The Röhss Museum of Design and Decorative Arts
By Elsebeth Welander-Berggren
The Röhss Museum of Design and Decorative Arts in Gothenburg is the only design museum in Sweden.
The museum was founded in 1904. The financial foundation was a donation from the estate of Wilhelm Röhss in 1901, and further donations were made by, among others, his brother August Röhss. The architect of the building, Carl Westman (1866-1936), was one of the most famous in Sweden during the early 20th century. The museum opened to the public in 1916. Today the museum is administred by the City of Gothenburg.
The first collections consisted of older Swedish and European decorative arts. A collection of Japanese objects was added in 1906. In 1912-1913 Thorild Wulff, a botanist, made a collection journey to China on behalf of the museum. The majority of the collections consist of old Swedish and European decorative arts, but also Greek and Roman artefacts and contemporary industrial design. The textile collection is exhaustive and contains many different types of textiles: Egyptian cloth, Chinese silk, lace, Nordic homespun cloth, embroidery as well as modern textile art. The metal collections are remarkable with objects from Tang dynasty up to today. A major collection of silver, the Falk Simon collection, was donated to the museum in 1931 with 80 magnificent pieces, mostly medieval and renaissance.
The furniture collection is extensive and consists of upper class furniture: renaissance, baroque, Louis XV and neo-classical furniture, some 19th century furniture and an exclusive variety of 20th century designed furniture. The bookbinding collection of is one of the finest in Sweden with more than 1,000 volumes from medieval times to the 20th century and a manuscript collection and illuminated pages, mostly from the 13th and 14th centuries.
Today the museum has more than 50,000 objects in its collections. In addition there is a comprehensive library containing 35,000 volumes and a large collection of exhibition catalogues within the field.
The museum has several permanent exhibitions including the Röhsska Museum Design History - 1851 to the Present Day, the 18th Century Collection, the Chinese Collection, and the Japanese Collection.
Every year the museum arranges 15-20 temporary exhibitions and a variety of lectures and symposiums. Also, annually, since 1994, the museum presents one of the biggest awards in the field of design and decorative arts - the Torsten and Wanja Söderberg´s Nordic prize. This year the prize, 600,000 SEK, went to Sweden, to the group of nine female designers who designed the YCC (Your Concept Car) for Volvo.
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