The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, founded 1739, was modelled on the pattern of the Royal Society of London and of l’Academie Royale des Sciences in Paris.
The academies of sciences are all very special bodies representing a cultural heritage which dates back to the Renaissance. Their origins, background and history differ and they fulfil their duties in different ways although they all promote science and defend the freedom of science.
The Swedish Academy of Sciences was created as, and still is, an independent, non-governmental scientific society. It began on a modest basis and achieved distinction through the quality of its leadership as well as its determination to promote natural science. Sweden in the first half of the 18th century presented an unusually distinguished array of scientists.
Among the founders was the world-famous naturalist Carl Linnaeus (knighted von Linné), the mercantilist Jonas Alströmer and the mechanical engineer Mårten Triewald as well as the politician Anders Johan von Höpken, who became the Academy’s first Permanent Secretary.
The Academy, in its early days, with its eminent membership, was in a position to establish fruitful scientific relationship with the academies of the main European countries - a step towards the internationalization of research. With its regularly published "Handlingar" (Transactions) and the bulletins then published in its Almanac, the Academy transmitted reserach findings both within the scientific community and to the Swedish general public - two different levels of research information.
During its first heyday, The Academy was above all concerned with promoting everyday applications of scientific discoveries, e.g. in agriculture, ship building and mining. The eminent chemist J. Berzelius was appointed Permanent Secretary in the beginning of the 19th century. His first care was to reorganize the Academy and to turn it into a society with purely scientific aims. This organization is still prevailing.
The Center for History of Science
The Center for History of Science was established in 1988 as a research institute under the auspices of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science. Its purpose is to pursue research into the history of science and to initiate and promote such research in Sweden and abroad. The most expedient possession is the material in the RSAS's historical archives, which reflects significant aspects of research within Sweden from the eighteenth century through to the present day. The center is also managing the Observatory Museum.
The Observatory Museum
The Observatory museum is situated in the Academy's first own building at Observatoriekullen in the central parts of Stockholm. The museum has extensive collections of instruments and other scientific equipment mainly from the 18th and 19th century.