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.