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24.06.2020

Gotland Museum

The Gotland Museum (formerly known as Länsmuseet på Gotland or Gotlands Fornsal) in Visby, Sweden, is the district museum of Gotland. It was founded by the "Friends of Antiquity Gotland" society in 1875 on the initiative of Per Arvid Xiave. The museum owns several houses and farms in Gotland, some of which are used as museums. The museum also publishes books on topics related to the heritage of the island.

The museum's collections consist of about 400,000 items, which are stored in three vaults. The largest of these is the Magasin Wisborg outside of Visby, and since 2014 the vault has been open to the public.

The collections are divided into these sections:

The collection of cultural history - clothing, textiles, household items, weapons, agricultural items.
Art Collection - Paintings, graphic engravings, sculptures.
Archaeological collection - Objects representing the history of Scotland from 7000 year old stone axes to medieval seals. Findings from excavations on the island.
Collection of natural history - fossils, herbaria, butterflies, equestrian animals, skeletons.

Objects from the collections were in most cases transferred to the museum by individuals, single items or entire estates. While some of the works of art were purchased by the museum, the art collection also includes works of art from the Brussebo Foundation, the Heritage Society and the Gotland Municipality, which are in the museum's trusteeship.

The best known permanent exhibitions of the museum are "The Stone Hall of Paintings", "The Strait Warehouse" and "1361 - The Battle of Gotland", about the Danish invasion of Gotland in 1361, led by Waldemar Atterdag, which resulted in the Battle of Meisterby and the Battle of Visby.

The museum was founded in 1875 by the Gotlands fornvänner society on the initiative of Pehr Arvid Säve. The aim of the museum was to collect historical artefacts and everyday objects related to Gotland and to document the intangible aspects of life on the island.

Over the years, the museum's functions have remained unchanged. The museum has grown steadily as its collections have grown. Houses, farms and other buildings have been left to the museum in wills and through donations, and the number of members has grown from a handful to over 2,400 in 2015.

In 2011, the museum initiated a networking project with other museums in the Baltic Sea countries.

The Society of Friends of Antiquity Gotland was founded on 16 October 1874. It was initiated by P A Säve, and the aim of the society was to collect all objects that had been used in everyday life in the past in Gotland and to preserve them for future generations. Folklore tales, songs, traditions, handicrafts and other aspects of life on the island, past and present, were to be recorded in books, magazines and notes and collected in an archive.

The following year, on 22 May at five o'clock in the afternoon, a meeting was held in the community to decide on renting some space to house the collections. The "Hall of Antiquities" (Ensemble) was to be created and opened to the public. At first the society rented a hall for girls in an old school near Visby Cathedral, and in early July 1880 the society bought an old distillery Branvin on Strandgatan to serve as the first museum. The first house is now known as the "Picture Stone Hall" (Bildstenschallen).

Since 2015, Friends of Antiquity Gotland has owned the entire block surrounding the stone Painting Hall, which is a modern museum. The society owns several farms and houses, which are also part of the museum. Membership in the society is open to everyone for a fee.

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