The Sven Hedin Foundation was created in 1952, upon the death of Sven Hedin (1865-1952), in accordance with his will. It contains the entire scientific and financial estate that Sven Hedin left behind. The former is large in size and scope, while the latter is more modest, consisting of some funds that generate resources for the management of the Foundation and for some of its scientific activities.
Income generated by the copyright enjoyed to all Sven Hedin’s publications, photographs, films etc. substantially augment the resources of the Foundation. The Foundation uses the funds at its disposal to run its administration, to complement, catalogue and keep its library and archives up to date. Finally, and of great importance, the funds are used to promote the analysis and publication of materials from the expeditions of Sven Hedin’s that are not yet made available to the public and the scientific community. The Foundation regrets that it, in accordance with its governing regulations, cannot entertain any applications for financial support submitted to it. The Foundation is not open to outside applications.
The Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences is the owner of the Foundation and manages its financial resources. But according to Sven Hedin’s intentions its day to day administration and all its scientific activities are co-ordinated from the Museum of Ethnography, where the Senior Curator of the Asian Collections is also expected to serve as the Keeper, or Executive of the Foundation.
The Museum of Ethnography owns or controls sizeable ethnographic and archaeological collections brought together by Sven Hedin, and during his last expedition also by his fellow co-scientists. These collections mainly relate to China, Mongolia, Tibet and Persia, and were early on donated to the Swedish people by Sven Hedin and his fellow researchers. Most of the collections of Central Asian Manuscripts kept in the Museum of Ethnography belong to the museum directly. A part of the ethnographic collections is, furthermore, kept in the Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg. Some objects were also exchanged with other major ethnographic museums in the world, where they are thus found today.
In accordance with the agreement that governed Sven Hedin’s last expedition to Chinese Central Asia archaeological finds that were brought for analysis and publication to Sweden were to be repatriated upon the request of the Chinese authorities concerned. These collections are today found in the National Historic Museum in Beijing. A choice selection from the ethnographic collections acquired during the last Hedin expedition was sent to Chicago (for the Century of Progress World Exhibition there, 1933-34). That collection afterwards remained in the USA, and was on display again in 1939 in New York (during the World exhibition there), before it was stored in Harvard and Oberlin. Part of it early on became the private property of the Vincent Bendix family. Some of those objects were later, in the early 1940:s, acquired by the Jacques Marchais Museum, New York, where they are found since then. The main part of the remaining collection, the one kept in Harvard, was in the early 1960:s donated/returned to the Sven Hedin Foundation and the Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm, where the objects since then are kept.
The other part, kept in Oberlin, was either destroyed in storage or had been somehow separated from that collection, before that storage was wound up in 1985. (See the Golden Temple Foundation, below.) The Foundation keeps the scientific library collected by Sven Hedin in the Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm (the remaining part, that cannot be fit into our limited premises, is deposited with the Stockholm University Library, Frescati). The scientific library is particularly strong on early Western research on Central Asia. The collections of photographs, drawings and water colours, maps, a great number of big volumes with cuts from newspapers related to Sven Hedin and his work, quite a lot of personal belongings and some of the archival materials are also kept in the National Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm. Sensitive film-material is kept under special conditions elsewhere. The main bulk of the archival material after Sven Hedin is, however, too substantial to be kept in the Museum of Ethnography, and it is deposited in the National Archives, Stockholm.
In addition to the so-called Sven Hedin Collection there, there is also another closely related, also substantial collection, called the Hedin/Norin Collection. It mainly contains material from the last Hedin Expedition, 1927-35 and in particular it mirrors the work of Erik Norin with its material.
The Sven Hedin Foundation would be grateful if any researcher making use of the archives could get in contact with its keeper to inform him about the research and the interest in the materials kept in the files of the Foundation. This could be of mutual benefit to both parties. He was the main geologist and cartographer of that expedition. All books still in print published by Sven Hedin or the Sven Hedin Foundation are kept with the Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm. They are sold and distributed from there as well as from Almqvist & Wixell, Stockholm. The Foundation itself keeps its archives in the Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm.
Further collections generated by the Hedin expeditions are housed in other museums and institutions in the Stockholm area:
-The Museum of Natural History keeps all collections pertaining to natural history (botany, zoology, entomology, paleozoology, paleobotany etc.).
-The Geological Survey of Sweden keeps geological samples from the Hedin expeditions.
-The Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences keeps most of his scientific instruments (some of these are also kept in the Museum of Ethnography). In the Academy there are also some rooms furnished with Sven Hedin’s private furniture and family pictures, and there are some important portraits of Sven Hedin himself.
-The Museum of Economic History (Numismatic museum) and the Royal Armoury near the Royal Palace keeps the incredible number of orders, medals etc., that Sven Hedin was awarded, and they also keep numismatic collections from the Hedin expeditions.
-The map section of the War Archives keeps material related to the printing of the maps from Sven Hedin’s expeditions 1899-1902 and 1905-1908.
-The House of Nobility maintains his shield and other material related to his nobility.
-The Paleontological Museum, Uppsala houses some paleontological collections generated by Sven Hedin’s expeditions. Further collections of that kind may be with the Museum of Natural in History, mentioned above.
-In the “National Archives for the Recorded Sound and Moving Images” there are recordings made during the last Hedin expedition.
-The Archives of the Swedish Radio and Television keep many recordings of Sven Hedin, both radio-recordings and journal films.
-The archives of the Albert Bonnier Publishing house, as the Swedish publishers of.
-In the Royal Library, as well as the Uppsala University Library, and the Lund University Library collections of Sven Hedin’s publications are found, as are letters written by him. Similar collections are found in many other places in the world; i.e.with the Royal Geographical Society in London or the Brockhaus Publishing House in Germany A special collection has been transferred to the Kanton Library Zürich, upon the death of its compiler. The ‘Hess’ collection is very strong on publications by Sven Hedin, but also contains a sizeable correspondence related to the compilation of the bibliography of Sven Hedin.
In addition, there are many places in Stockholm related to Sven Hedin and his family; the places where he lived, his grave with the church containing an epitaphium over him, the House of Nobility, where his shield is displayed, private archives, such as the one of his publisher, etc. etc.
Finally, in Stockholm the Golden Temple Foundation is found, which is an independent body but conceptually connected to the Museum of Ethnography and the Sven Hedin Foundation. It owns the Golden Temple or Pavilion, which Sven Hedin commissioned in Beijing in 1930, as a copy of an important 18th century temple from Jehol/Chengde. The intention is to take care of it in Sweden to make it possible some time in the future to restore and complement it. This would in the best case make it possible to erect it at the Museum of Ethnography to serve as an exhibition hall, primarily for the Hedin collections but also for other materials related to Sino-Swedish relations and Chinese-Central Asian cultural history. It is also to serve as a venue for cultural activities; musical and other performances, meetings, receptions etc.
The Sven Hedin Foundation irregularly publishes two series:
-Reports from the Scientific Expedition to the North-western Provinces of China under the leadership of Sven Hedin. (So far 56 volumes have been published – quite a few are still in print).
-Sven Hedin – Life and Letters (So far 3 volumes have been published – all are still in print) The Foundation can provide a list of these publications, as well as other ones that it may have for sale, also indicating the prices. Further information on the Hedin Collections: In the Museum of Ethnography the following kinds of resources are kept:
01. Archaeological collections, including manuscripts, from Khotan, Lou Lan, Edsina and a number of other localities in the Tarim Basin. They are registered under a number of numbers/collections, from 1902 to the mid 1930:s, and are related directly or indirectly to Sven Hedin.
02. Ethnographic collections from Tibet, Xinjiang, Mongolia and China. They are also registered under a number of numbers/ collections, from 1902 to the early 1940:s, and are related directly or indirectly to Sven Hedin.
03. The Sven Hedin Central Asia/Scientific Library. A Library with mainly European sources on Central Asia, from the early 17th century and onwards. Totally some 4000 titles, also containing the enormous production of Sven Hedin himself, including all translations. The total Hedin Library runs into more than the double.
04. The Sven Hedin Rare Maps collection, mainly on Central Asia contains many hundred maps. [As a part of the deposition with the National Archives there is also a map collection housed there, consisting of maps and sketches from the Hedin Foundation. The Intention is to merge or closely connect these two collections.]
05. The Sven Hedin Drawings and watercolours, some 4-5000 of them.
06. The Sven Hedin Photographic Collections, containing all his material from the 1890:s to his death, together with the collections of those scientists who followed him on the last expedition. They also contain a substantial collection of private family photographs. A fair guess is that the collections together contain some 7000 pictures.
07. The Sven Hedin collections from Newspapers and similar publications. Huge collections, neatly bound year by year, sometimes many volumes for one year. A comprehensive coverage of Sven Hedin and related persons in the press from the 1880:s until his death. These volumes also contain many copies of his own contributions to journals and newspapers.
08. Hedin portraits, memorabilia, furniture etc. Quite a lot is kept in the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences.
09. In the National Archives the Sven Hedin foundation has deposited its truly enormous archives, one of the biggest private archives in Sweden. The collection contains some 50.000 registered letters, all manuscripts, diaries, notebooks, private and administrative papers etc. etc. Parallel to it is the Hedin-Norin collection that actually overlaps with the Hedin-collection.