The History of the Royal Armoury

The Royal Armoury trace its roots to the 16th century, when Gustav Vasa reigned. The museum is one of Sweden's oldest museums.

Several royal offices were instituted by Gustav Vasa, each with responsibility for various areas of the royal houshold. The Wardrobe cared for textiles, the Arsenal stored arms and armour and the King's own Armory kept the king's personal weapons and horse equipment. From these offices, and from several royal private collections, today's Royal Armoury has its origin.

One of Sweden's oldest museums

In 1628, Gustav II Adolf was twice wounded in the Polish-Swedish war (1600–1629). His ordered the two suits in which he had been wounded to be preserved "as an eternal memory" of his bravery. Thus, the tradition of saving objects from dramatic moments in the lives of royalty began. In the 17th century selected visitors were invited to see the collections at the old royal palace Three Crowns.

Photo: Erik Lernestål/SHM

The collections survive the palace fire

The Three Crowns Palace burned down in 1697. Most of the content in the Royal Wardrobe could be saved at the time. And the arms and armour had already been moved from the palace in 1691, to create an arsenal to the nearby palace of Makalös in Kungsträdgården.

On the move

When Gustav III was king, the costume collection was expanded and at the same time royal dresses for women were preserved for the first time. The Royal Armoury first moved to Fredrikshov Castle and in the early 19th century some armour was exhibited in the church on Riddarholmen.

In the middle of the 19th century, the Armory and the Wardrobe were merged. A more "modern" museum began to take shape. The collections were displayed first in Arvfurstens palats (Palace of the Hereditary Prince) at Gustav Adolfs torg and then in Brunkebergs hotel.

Image: Arvfurstens palats

Nationalmuseum

The Royal Armoury moved to Nationalmuseum in 1865. There, culturally and historically trained curators presided over the collection, which was significantly expanded when Karl XV bequeathed his weapons collection to the Royal Armoury in 1872.

Eventually, the museum could no longer be housed in the Nationalmuseum building and was consequently moved to Stockholm Palace in 1884. The ceremonial carriages not in use from the Royal Stables were also added. The collection still consists of arms, armour, suits, carriages and horse equipment.

Image from the catalogue of Karl XV's collection.

The Nordic Museum

When the royal family needed the premises in the Stockholm Palace, the Royal Armoury was moved to the Nordic Museum on Djurgården, where the collection were put on display in the main hall between 1906 and 1977.

The Royal Armoury only had one museum official employed when they moved in, but the staff was soon expanded. And the collection was scientifically processed, the library was replenished, conservation activities were expanded and several more special exhibitions were held.

Photo: unknown photographer
Livrustkammarens föremål i Nordiska Museets centralhall år 1907.

Back to the Stockholm Palace

During the 1960s, a museum was planned for the kingdom's regalia in Stockholm Palace. Once again, the Armory was mentioned and it was considered that it could contribute to a more vibrant museum environment in the castle.

After years of planning, the Royal Armoury therefore moved back into Stockholm Palace in 1978 as a tenant.

Foto: Erik Lernestål/SHM

The present-day Royal Armoury

The museum's collections of arms, armour, costumes as well as horse equipment and carriages are internationally recognized. Many objects are lent to other museums in Sweden and abroad. The research conducted in the museum also contributes to new findings and knowledge obout historical artefacts.

Photo: Erik Lernestål/SHM

From the House of Vasa to the Bernadottes

In 2019, a permanent exhibition opened at the Royal Armoury. The history of the monarchy is illustrated by means of a timeline from Gustav Vasa to the present day. The visitor is able to learn about famous victories, dramatic moments and magnificent ceremonies, but also the joys and sorrows of the women and men who helped to shape history.

Photo: Erik Lernestål/SHM
Museimonter på Livrustkammaren med kungliga leksaker.