Röhsska Museum in Goteborg opened to the public in 1916. Sweden was late with starting a special museum of decorative arts and design. The Röhsska museum was one of the latest in a series of similar museums built around Europe with the intention to show the best of the industrial and handicraft production. As with many other industrial art museums Röhsska Museum was founded with the help of private donations. The museum is named after the two merchant brothers Wilhelm (1834-1900) and August Röhss (1836-1904) who made the museum possible through a bequest. Along with a variety of generous donors, the museum has had the opportunity during the last hundred years to develope into a vital meeting place for design, fashion and crafts.
The architect Carl Westman's drawingRöhsska Museum
The museum building that was built in 1913 in red hand-made brick is designed by Carl Westman (1866-1936) and placed between Chalmers school on Vasagatan, current Valand and Handicraft Society School at Kristinelundsgatan, current HDK. The building's architectural design is in many ways typical of the 1910s national romantic spirit.
The facade around 1917Röhsska Museum
The many bricks of the museum façade are hand made and several of them have a hand carved pattern or decoration, which was ordered and in some cases even carried out by the architect Carl Westman and the main curator Axel Nilsson themselves.
The Röhsska Museum´s Design HistoryRöhsska Museum
Today Röhsska museum's purpose is to collect and display the design and craft traditions distinct expression and creative character, encourage our visitors to have an active approach and to gain awareness and knowledge of both historical and contemporary expression in the design and crafts. The museum wishes to use the collection and exhibitions to provide perspectives on social development and give deeper insight into the world of forms that surround us.
The Röhsska Museum has an extensive collection of about 50 000 artefacts, spanning craft, design and fashion. The collection is divided into various smaller collections, inter alia furniture, metal, industrial design, textile, costume, sketches, prints and illustrations, glass, ceramics, book bindings and the East Asian collection. The museum also holds other kinds of collections with specific items, like the Japanese woodblock print collection or the Falk Simon donation which holds an impressive collection of gold and silver artefacts. Here is an introduction to some of our collections.
The Fashion and costume collection
Röhsska Museum’s fashion collection contains garments from the 1800s to the present day, and many of the greatest fashion designers of the twentieth century are represented. It also contains numerous accessories such as shoes, bags and jewelry. Röhsska Museum wants to promote a deep and nuanced interest in fashion and works actively to collect archive materials, create networks and function as a meeting place for both creators of fashion and interested members of the general public. The core of the museum’s fashion collection consists of a donation from fashion historian Tonie Lewenhaupt, who donated her private collection to the museum in 1997. The museum primarily collects contemporary material in costume and fashion, and the aim is to acquire new and exciting idioms that we believe will be significant in the development of design.
Men's suit consisting of a jacket and trousers. The jacket is maid of silk with stripes of two colors. Embroidery twisted and untwisted silk in off-white, light blue, green, aquamarine and black. Lining of white taffeta. Trousers of light brown silk atlas, lining of cotton. Two covered buttons at each knee.
2011 the Röhsska museum acquired a coat from John Gallianos collection for autumn/winter 2010/2011. The coat was purchased for the museum by The Association of friends of the Röhsska museum. The coat is made of wool and has a collar, cuffs and gore in sheepskin. It is also decorated with embroidery. Unique accessories that were specially made for the show was acquired along with the coat.
This show piece was part of Vivianne Westwoods Gold Label collection Chaos point from the autumn of 2008. Through Chaos Point, Vivienne Westwood once again took a political standpoint in her creativity. This time it is mankind’s brutal impact on the environment that she wants to highlight and counteract. Ahead of her work with Chaos Point, Vivienne Westwood visited a group of children at Portland School in Nottingham, UK. After telling them a story Westwood set the children to work and paint what they believed the story was about. The result became the basis of the Chaos Point collection and the fabric in this dress is a direct copy of what the children drew.
The Textiles Collection
The textiles collection is the single largest collection at the museum and includes many different kinds of textiles: Coptic tapestries, Chinese silk, lace, Nordic allmoge (folk art) weavings, embroidery, modern textile images, etc.There are textiles found in Egyptian soil, Chinese silk fabrics, carpets, fine weaving from Bohusland, Nordic rya rugs, knitted garments and samples and pattern drawings from Bohus stickning (1939-1969), textile art from the 1900s and modern printed fabrics. The museum’s textile collection is rich and wide-ranging, though the museum has a restrictive approach to acquiring older textiles and only accepts individual objects of a high quality. As regards contemporary textiles, the museum makes ongoing acquisitions of new idioms.
A roundel woven using tapestry weave. It has been woven into or sewn onto a larger weaving using simpler techniques. Warp in linen yarn with some woolen yarn and gold thread with a silk core.
Astronomie is one of Röhsska Museum’s finest textiles, showing a group of men in Mediaeval Western dress making astronomical observations. The only person who can be definitely identified in the picture is the female personification of astronomy to the right. There are a variety of opinions about who the astronomer closest to Astrologia could be. One interpretation, which is supported by the inscription on the clothing, is that it shows the Arab astronomer Ibn Yunus or Albategnius. Ibn Yunus (858–929) wrote books and constructed instruments for observing heavenly bodies, but also made significant improvements to the sextant and compass.
The drapery Vilde roser by textile artist Frida Hansen (1855-1931) was displayed at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900. At the exhibition Hansen won the gold medal for her artistry and work with the company Det norske Billevæveri that she started with Randi Blehr. The characteristics of Hansen's work is her way of leaving parts of the warp visible and thus allow light through the fabric, a technique which she called transparent technique and patented in 1897. The curtain is woven a wool tapestry with fringe at both ends. Hard twisted blue-gray wool has been used for the warp, while looser spun wool yarn in white, green, gray, pink and yellow has been used for the elements. Large portions of the warp is left unwoven.
The East Asian collections
The East Asian collections are primarily comprised of Japanese and Chinese artifacts and are the oldest collection in the museum. The Chinese collection consists of around 1400 artifacts. Notable among these are two Ming lions in marble, a Pu-tai sculpture in lacquer and wood and four cast iron Lohans from the 1400s, as well as a representative selection of Chinese snuff bottles. The Chinese collection is one of the oldest museum collections in Europe, reflecting the increased interest in Chinese history and culture in the early twentieth century, and is thus of great historic value. The Japanese collection consists of about 1500 artifacts, including netsukes, tsuba and wood block prints that represent work by about 50 artists. The Japanese collection has a number of valuable and representative artifacts and the collection’s high level of historic worth is linked to the West’s enthusiasm at the start of the 1900s for Japan.
The laughing Buddha, Putai or Budai, was acquired by the museum in 1915 as part of the collection brought to Sweden by Thorild Wulff. Since 1915, Putai has been located in the upper landing of the Röhsska Museum; it is one of the museum’s most popular exhibits, and is strongly associated with the museum. Putai, with his fantastic smile, is the museum’s good spirit. Such a giant Buddha cannot be seen anywhere else in Sweden!
Japanese woodblock printing became a major source of inspiration for Western artists such as Monet, Degas, Toulose Lautrec, Van Gogh, Matisse and Swedish artists such as Carl Larsson and Anders Zorn in the late 19th century. The museum’s collection bears witness to the great interest. The unique collection includes about 350 woodblocks with the emphasis on prints from the early 19th century. This specific print by Hiroshige depicts the Kambara station and is part of the Tokaido road series.
Before western clothing became fashionable, the Japanese wore the kimono. Because the kimono lacked pockets, necessities such as purses and smoking materials were often hung from a cord around the kimono’s sash. Small buttons called netsuke were used to fasten them to the sash. Later the netsuke became an expensive fashion accessory and status symbol worn by feudal overlords, samurai and merchants. Today there are more than 600 high-quality netsukes in the Röhsska Museum Oriental collection.
The glass collection
Röhsska Museum’s collections of glass are generally divided into older and modern glass. Some areas are well-represented; notable among the older glass is a collection of Roman glass from the centuries around the birth of Christ. Swedish glass from the 1920s and 1930s is well-represented. The period 1940 - 1970 is also richly represented, primarily by Swedish glass. The collections from the 1970s and 1990s not only include unique glass from glassworks, but also studio glass from the UK and the US. Just as in several other areas, the museum lacks good examples from the 1800s, but has better collections of glass from the 1700s and 1900s. The collection is more Swedish than international in its focus. Here we present a small selection of glass in the collection. By making a search you can see all the glass objects that are published.
Vines in glowing autumn colors wind along the bulging body of the vase, which is the result of two skilled glassworkers, Greta Welander as designer and Axel Enoch Boman as polisher. Its date, 1914, makes it possible to assume that it was made for the Baltic Exhibition in Malmö that year.
The vase is made from pale green and rose hipred glass. The bowl has a folded calyx shape, while the stem is tall and thin and ends in a rounded foot.
Vase in the shape of an amphora. Dark blue glass decorated in pale blue-green and yellow.
The furniture collection
The museum’s furniture collection is relatively extensive and consists of higher class furniture from the Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and neoclassicism. There is also a collection of twentieth century furniture, primarily Swedish and Nordic seating from the latter half of the twentieth century. The furniture collection has mainly Swedish furniture, as well furniture from other areas of Scandinavia, and a small number of pieces from other European countries.The collection has a good standard for furniture from the 1700s and seating from the latter half of the 1900s, but furniture prior to 1700 is not well-represented; the collection of furniture from the 1800s and early 1900s needs to be expanded.
Mirror made in blackened pear wood for the Industrial exhibition in Göteborg in 1891.
Secretaire with olive wood and sandalwood veneer. High gently curved legs. Two drawers under the flap and a secret drawer.
Armchair, probably a prototype, made for the M/S Kungsholms 1st class smoking lounge.
The Collection of Metal
The strangest element of the metal collection is Falk Simon’s donation of around eighty glorious pieces in silver, mainly from the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque. The museum also has significant collections of silver, primarily from the 1600s, 1700s and 1900s. The silver collection is good quality and represents international design history from the Middle Ages to the present day, with the exception of 19th century and Mediaeval silver. The museum also has a considerable collection of Swedish wrought silver from the latter half of the twentieth century and the twenty-first century. The collection of twentieth century silver primarily includes Swedish silver and is not as international as the collection of older silver. The museum also has a collection of jewellery, mainly from the second half of the twentieth century. There are also minor collections of wrought iron, cast iron, tin, brass and bronze.
This drinking vessel is an exquisite treasure from the end of the Renaissance and is of the highest quality. Typically, it has been given a form which shows a number of Renaissance interests. The love of Antiquity is expressed through the proud goddess of the hunt, Diana, who is carrying a weapon and has her hounds on chains, galloping on her magnificent steed, a noble, crowned hart. The decorations on the base shows a miniature world. The scientific interest of the time is represented by the small, carefully worked reptiles, frogs and lizards, which move over the ground.
Terrine and lid in tin. The knob on the lid is shaped like a violinist, while the terrine’s handles depict two dancing couples, one young and the other old. The terrine was designed in 1903 and was first manufactured in 1907.
Tea box of chased and embossed silver.
The ceramics collection
The ceramics collection is large and varied: Antique vases, Islamic ceramics, foreign and Swedish faience, porcelain from the 1700s and 1800s, contemporary ceramics, utility goods and ceramic art. There are also Chinese, Japanese, Korean and other East Asian ceramics.The museum also has a tile collection that includes 35 disassembled ceramic tile stoves and a collection of cast iron stoves.
Thanks to two donors, Röhsska Museum was able to make a unique acquisition in 1931: two glazed tile reliefs were bought from Staatliche Museum in Berlin, a lion and a dragon, originally from the German excavations in Babylon. In Sweden, these are the sole representatives old the ancient Babylonians’ artistic culture. It was initially assumed that the lion relief at Röhsska Museum was one of the original 120 lions on the processional avenue to the Marduk Temple in Babylon. However, it later became apparent that Röhsska Museum’s lion is from the façade to Nebuchadnezzar II’s throne chamber (604-562 BCE).
Ceramics from the Song Dynasty have long been considered particularly exclusive. From Ru Yao, the most famous kiln of the Song Period, as well as the rarest and widely considered the best in the world; there are only around 100 known artifacts. Two of these are at Röhsska Museum in Göteborg, where they are two masterpieces in the museum’s collection.
Glazed creamware urn with decoration in sgraffito technique with green cow parsley and light green background.