|Abstract:||How has a national narration been established and reproduced at Sweden’s central museum for Prehistory and the Middle Ages, the Museum of National Antiquities (MNA, today named the National Historical Museum)? The chronological framework for answering this question here relates to the period from 1900 to 1970 with an emphasis on the 1920-50 period, the foundational time of the Swedish Welfare state. During these decades the MNA changed on many levels, including a new building and a new organizational structure, which entailed a change of exhibitions as well. At the same time the museum presents a remarkable continuity with regard to its objectives and agenda.|
During most of the 20th century the link between statistically processed object types and ethnographic interpretations was and is a discursive construction. However, the situation between 1900 and 1950 was unique with regard to the MNA exhibitions and the ideological profile of archaeology. What flourished then was an archaeology that might be characterized as nationally romantic, culturally conservative and racial, and one might add that this changed only gradually in the wake of the Second World War. Still, and despite certain sympathizers of Nazi Germany amongst its practitioners, Swedish archaeology cannot be compared to that developed in the context of Nazi ideology. It did not advocate or actively support racial war, euthanasia or aggressive racial hygiene (Baudou 2002). Nevertheless, Swedish archaeology formed part of an international context, where cooperation and correspondence between researchers, not least German ones, were a natural part of the practice. This article provides a brief outline of the theme of national identity and archaeological representation in Sweden, mainly through an interpretation of the displays of the early 20th century in the MNA.