Museum Adolphi Friderici Detail of Plate I in Museum Adolphi Friderici, showing Simia apella

Museum Adolphi Friderici is shorthand for both the collections maintained by the King of Sweden, Adolf Fredrik (1710-1771), and the publications by Carl Linnaeus describing those collections (Linnaeus, 1754, 1764).

Both Adolf Fredrik and his wife, Queen Lovisa Ulrika (1720-1782), maintained natural history cabinets, a fashion of their time. The cabinets contained a variety of objects, but chiefly exotic animals. The King kept his collection in the royal castle of Ulriksdal, just north of Stockholm, and the Queen maintained her cabinet in the royal castle of Drottningholm, also close to Stockholm. The King's collection contained mainly alcohol preserved specimens, comprising about 1,100 jars. The Queen collected dry specimens, mostly shells, corals, and insects.

Carl Linnaeus, then professor in Uppsala, spent altogether nine weeks in the period 1751-1754 at Ulriksdal for the purpose of publishing a catalog of the King's collection. The first volume was published in folio with numerous illustration in 1754 (Linnaeus, 1754). The second volume did not appear until 1764 (Linnaeus, 1764). It is an insignificant octavo volume and has no illustrations, owing to the rapid deterioration of state finances after the Seven Years War.

Most of the specimens were transferred to the collections of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1801, and formed an illustrious portion of that collection when it was transformed into the Swedish Museum of Natural History in 1828. The royal collection is important because to a considerable extent they formed the basis for Linnaeus's knowledge of animals. It also contains many type specimens for animals described by Linnaus in the 10th and 12th editions of Systema Naturae (Linnaeus, 1758; Linné, 1766).

The herpetological and ichthyological portions of the Museum Adolphi Friderici collection have been revised by Andersson (1899, 1900) and Fernholm & Wheeler (1980), respectively. Still, they were not able to find or to identify all specimens. The curatorial record of the Museum Adolphi Friderici specimens is not complete, and it was not always kept separate from the main collection of the Academy or museum. Contemporary collections acquired by the museum contain similar material with equally poor documentation. Specimens have been lost, displaced or sent on exchange. Labels have been lost, mixed or deliberately modified. There was no similar effort to catalogue the birds and mammals.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of a number of museum curators and staff, most recently in a project financed by the Ministry of Culture SESAM project, we now have a reasonably good idea of which specimens have been preserved till the present.

Problems remain, but not least by making available images of specimens from the collection on the Internet, do we hope to have the assistance from the scientific community in resolving remaining problems. The Internet presence is sponsored by a special Museum research grant to make available NRM Linnaean collections on the Internet.

Please, be advised that the collections contain animals of many different groups. Images of vertebrate foetuses and adult primates are made available for scientific purposes only. Some may find these images macabre or repulsive. As scientists and curators of these specimens, we maintain them with all due respect. They generally represent a practise in natural history cabinets that is no longer pursued.

Literature cited
ANDERSSON, L.G. 1899. Catalogue of the Linnaean type-specimens of snakes in The Royal Museum in Stockholm. Bihang till Kongl. Svenska Vetenskaps-Akademiens Handlingar 24 (4) (6): 1-35. pdf file, 1.7 Mb
ANDERSSON, L.G. 1900. Catalogue of Linnaean type-specimens of Linnaeus's reptilia in The Royal Museum in Stockholm. Bihang till Kongl. Svenska Vetenskaps-Akademiens Handlingar 26 (4) (1): 1-29.
FERNHOLM, B. & A. WHEELER. 1983. Linnaean fish specimens in the Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 78: 199-286.
LINNAEUS, C. 1754. Hans Maj:ts Adolf Frideriks vår allernådigste konungs naturalie samling innehållande sällsynte och främmande djur, som bevaras på kongl. lust-slottet Ulriksdahl beskrefne och afritade samt på nådig befallning utgifne af Carl Linnaeus. Stockholm, I-XXX, 1-96 pp. + 7 pp.pdf file
LINNAEUS, C. 1758. Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. Holmiae, 823 pp.
[LINNAEUS, C.] 1764. Museum S:ae R:ae M:tis Adolphi Friderici Regis Svecorum, Gothorum, Vandalorumque &c. &c. &c. in quo Animalia rariora imprimis & exotica: Aves, Amphibia, Piscis describuntur. Tomi secundi Prodromus. Holmiae. Pp 110.
LINNÉ, C. a. 1766. Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio duodecima, reformata. Holmiae, 532 pp.

Author: Sven O Kullander
Copyright © Swedish Museum of Natural History and the author, 1997-2001

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