Skissernas Museums founder Ragnar Josephson Photo: unknown/Skissernas Museums
Sonia and Robert Delaunay, Henri Matisse and Andre Beaudin at Atelier Levallois, Exposition Internationale des arts et techniques dans la vie moderne in Paris 1937. Photo: unknown/Skissernas Museum
Skulptur fraktas till museet 1949. Photo: unknown/Skissernas Museums images and clips archive
Vernissage audience 1941 Photo: unknown/Skissernas Museum
International Gallery, 1949. Photo: Unknown / Skissernas Museum's image and clips archive.
Ragnar Josephson in the Swedish hall. Photo: unknown/Skissernas Museums images and clips archive

History of the museum

Skissernas Museum – Museum of Artistic Process and Public Art was founded in 1934 by Ragnar Josephson (18911966), while he was professor of history of art at Lund University. His intention was to create an archive of the creative process, the artist’s path from the first draft of an idea to the final work – what Josephson saw as the birth of a work of art”. The idea was to collect sketches, models and photographs of public art, which was particularly suitable material as it often requires many preliminary studies.

The first archive material consisted of purchased postcards of what was then called decorative art, i.e. the art designed to integrate with the architecture in our public spaces. The initiative for the collection was soon very much appreciated by the artists in the country, who were attracted to the idea that their preparatory works – which were not considered of equal value to their completed works – now had a new purpose, so they donated their sketches or sold them at a low price. The first artist to donate material to the archive’s Swedish collection was Prince Eugen. This was followed by more gifts, as Eugen found the idea of the archive to be excellent, and his correspondence with Josephson clearly illustrates his delight at the archive’s expansion.

Thanks to the donations and generosity of artists, Josephson’s Archive of Decorative Art at the Department of History of Art grew steadily, so Lund University donated the premises of a former female teacher's college to house the collection in 1941. Read more about the museum building and its six eras. 

When the collection was opened to the public, the archive became an actual museum, Arkivmuseet (the Archive Museum). Since 1941, both the museum’s premises and its collections have expanded further, and now contain close to 30 000 objects from most parts of the world. (The museum changed its name to Konstmuseet [the Art Museum] in 1984, to Skissernas Museum in 1991, and the subtitle Museum of Artistic Process and Public Art was added in 2013. The museum is still unique in its focus and receives donations or makes new acquisitions to its collections every year, in accordance with the original purpose of studying the creative process from sketch to completed work within public art.

The creative process is seldom linear and does not simply proceed from A to Z. It takes place on many levels – intellectual, intuitive, searching. The artist may be relating to a poetic vision which must be adapted to the space, to the commissioner and not least to the material in which the work is to be realised. Nowadays, we discuss this in terms of relational aesthetics. At Skissernas Museum – Museum of Artistic Process and Public Art, you can discover how the path to a completed work can take exciting detours in the creative process. New times, forms of expression, materials and techniques mean that art in public spaces is different today to the way it was 70 years ago. Perspectives have broadened and since the 1970s, for example, graffiti art has become a concept. In the present time, street art is another. Municipalities and counties, companies and the Public Art Agency Sweden commission works of art, memorials are created, art meets architecture, film and video are new techniques and TV and internet are accessible to all – public. Today, the museum is a platform for interdisciplinary dialogue on creativity, the creative process and issues that affect our public spaces – a meeting place for boundary-crossing collaboration.

Since 1979 the museum has been an autonomous unit which, together with Lund University’s other cultural organisations and the Botanical Garden, reports directly to the vice-chancellor’s office. The museum is governed by a board responsible for the long term planning of its activities.