Published: 08-02-2024 15:30 | Updated: 12-02-2024 15:14

Lecture hall at KI renamed after Christina Larsdotter

Illustration of Christina Larsdotter.
Christina Larsdotter. Illustration: Nordiska museet, unknown artist, 1837, from Åke Lundgren's collections.

On January 23, President Annika Östman Wernerson decided to name a lecture hall on Campus Solna after Christina Larsdotter. The decision was made after preparation by KI's advisory board for naming matters.

The formal renaming of a lecture hall to Christina Larsdotter has been decided by President Annika Östman Wernerson.

The hall, located in the so-called BZ building at Berzelius väg 3 in Solna, was previously named Retzius after the two controversial researchers Anders and Gustaf Retzius

Portrait of Anders Gustafsson
Anders Gustafsson. Photo: Erik Flyg.

"The change of name feels good. We should not sweep this part of our history under the carpet but talk about it and be clear about where we stand today," says Anders Gustafsson, chairman of the review board for naming issues at KI. 

Christina Larsdotter toured Europe

Christina Larsdotter was a Sami woman born 1819 in the region of Malå. Due to a growth disorder, she was just over two meters tall. 

During her lifetime she participated in show tours through Sweden and Europe. She managed her own finances and, according to several sources, earned enough both to repay a debt incurred by her parents and buy a homestead in her home village of Brännäs with her sister. 

Larsdotter allowed herself to be examined by doctors at KI and the Swedish Medical Society. 

After her death in 1854 the body was exhumed and transported to KI, where the skeleton was displayed in KI's anatomical museum.

Recovered remains 

A fire in 1892 at KI destroyed large parts of the collections, including the catalog describing the contents of the museum. 

It was long thought that the remains of Christina Larsdotter had also been destroyed, but during an inventory of the collections in 2022, a box labeled "very tall man" was discovered, which turned out to be Christina Larsdotter's remains.

The remains of Christina Larsdotter will be returned to the Malå Sami Association. The process is ongoing and the reburial is planned for the end of May 2024.  

Maria Josephson
Maria Josephson. Photo: Peter Josephson.

"We have returned remains before and would like to do more, but the processes are complicated," explains Maria Josephson, medical historian at KI's History of Medicine and Cultural Heritage.

When releasing the remains, KI must be absolutely sure of exactly what is being returned and that there are no competing claims. '

"As a government agency, our collections are state property, which means that a government decision must be made before any remains are released," says Maria Josephson.

Those who book the hall today will now do so in the name of Christina Larsdotter, although the correct sign on the hall is not yet in place.