The museum covers Swedish archaeology and cultural history from the Mesolithic period to present day. Founded in 1866, it operates as a government agency and is tasked with preserving Swedish historical items as well as making knowledge about history available to the public.
The foundation for what was to become the Swedish History Museum and the Nationalmuseum, was King Gustav Vasa’s 16th century art collection at Gripsholm Castle.
Swedish History Museum is one of the largest museums in Sweden with more than 10 million artefacts (spanning 10,000 years), registered under around 34,000 inventory numbers, and one of the largest collections of antiquities in Europe. About 6,000 of the objects are on display.
Below the main courtyard of the museum there is the Gold Room where a large number of gold and silver objects are on display. The room contains about 3000 objects made from a total of 52 kg gold and more than 200 kg silver. The most noted objects in the Gold Room collection are the collars dating from around 350–500, made of gold from Roman coins.
The museum also hosts the largest Viking exhibition in the world, including weapons, the Söderala vane, the Mästermyr chest, archaeological finds from the Viking Age trading centre, Birka, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on Björkö, religious items from the era, foreign objects brought home from travels and raids in other parts of the world as well as thousands of finds related to the everyday life during that period.