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Fädernesland och framtidsland: Sigurd Curman och kulturminnesvårdens etablering
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Historical Studies.
2001 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study of the establishment of heritage preservation in Sweden during the first half of the 20th century focuses upon Sigurd Curman (1879-1966), art historian, restoration architect and Director of Antiquities. Its purpose is to show how an older, more research-oriented form of heritage work grew to become a more socially-conscious vari­ant of cultural preservation. The period of establishment embraces organizational inquiries, government legisla­tion and institutionalization, and as Director of Antiquities between 1923 and 1946, Curman was a main actor. He had already become a key figure in debates on the official organization of preservation activities in Sweden well before this, whose early career dealt chiefly with the restoration of churches. Curman advocated the accentuation of aspects of cultural history. An opinion had been formed among cultural historians and museum curators against what they perceived as the obsolete manner of pursuing heritage efforts conducted by the Royal Swedish Acad­emy of Letters, History and Antiquities and its secretary, the Director of Antiquities, who was also head of Swe­den's main official museum, the Museum of History. Criticism was aimed at all aspects of official heritage preservation efforts, including legislation, restoration policy, the care of ancient ruins and treatment of finds, as well as the lack of understanding on the behalf of the central authority for local and regional interests. The latter referred to the emotive aspects of heritage preservation, which in contemporary verbiage was summarized by the term "piety". The central authority was accussed of not understanding "popular" heritage preservation outside the context of the museum and of displaying a lack of piety toward "the cultural memory of the Fatherland". These feelings were based primarily on two prerequisites: an established perception of a homogeneous national culture with ancient roots in the past, and an apprehension that it was in the interests of society that the government become responsible for the administration of this material cultural heritage. This ambition can be summarized by the term "preservation of cultural heritage" and its foremost exponent was Sigurd Curman. The dissertation fol­lows Curman from his childhood in a wealthy Stockholm family, to his early career in restoration and as lecturer in architectural history at the College of Art. In 1912, Curman was appointed to the first chair in these fields estab­lished at the College, which he held until 1918 when he became advisor in the cultural history of architecture at the new Royal Swedish Board of Public Building. When appointed Director of Antiquities he began concretizing the official organization of heritage preservation. During the 1910s he participated in a comprehensive, dual inquiry into the organization and legislation of the government's heritage preservation policy. When its final report was presented in 1922 it was tabled, but still acted as the basis for Curman's continued efforts. He created a modem bureaucracy out of the council of the Department of Antiquities and contributed to moving the central authority from the ground floor of the National Museum to its own premises in midtown Stockholm. Curman would also work to improve legislation to protect cultural monuments and developed museum activities by creat­ing a countrywide organization of county antiquarians and regional museums. When Sweden's new antiquities law was passed by parliament in 1942, Curman had not only led the inquiry leading up to it, but had formulated the draft of the legislation himself. By the time of his retirement in 1946 he was a legend in antiquarian circles, the very personification of Swedish cultural heritage preservation. The present dissertation shows how Curman achieved this status, though it also details the efforts of numerous other actors participating in the process and sees Curman as a bureaucrat who realized demands for a renewal of heritage preservation in the country.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2001. , 374 p.
, Skrifter från forskningsprogrammet Landskapet som arena, ISSN 1650-4526 ; 2
Keyword [en]
heritage, Sigurd Curman, Director of Antiquities, Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, Museum of History, museum pedagogy, county antiquarians, National Romanticism, landscape preservation, nationalism
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-60631ISBN: 91-7305-005-9OAI: diva2:561751
Available from: 2012-10-22 Created: 2012-10-22 Last updated: 2014-01-27Bibliographically approved

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