Published: 2020-09-21 16:25 | Updated: 2020-09-21 16:36

Retzius bust placed in storage

Photo: Stefan Zimmerman

On the completion of Karolinska Institutet’s new laboratory, Biomedicum, the old premises known as the Retzius Laboratory were vacated. The building’s owner, Akademiska Hus, is currently undertaking a major renovation, after which it will be leased to new tenants. Since 2018, KI has not conducted any operations in this area of Campus Solna.

Photo: Stefan Zimmerman

In conjunction with KI vacating the premises, a discussion arose concerning the fate of a bust of Anders Retzius, the property of the university, located at the northeast corner of the building. The bust, which dates from the 1890s, is the work of Finnish sculptor Walter Runeberg.

Following a decision by University Management, the bust was removed from its current location on Thursday 17 September and is now in storage awaiting a decision on its future placement.

The primary reason for moving the bust is the major rebuilding work being performed immediately adjacent to its previous location.

Historical heritage

Photo: Stefan Zimmerman

“The management has also taken initiative to a deeper discussion and analysis of how we should put our historical heritage in context. Some of our history is not coherent with the values KI stands for today,” says university director Katarina Bjelke.

KI has a specialist unit, Medical History and Heritage, tasked with collecting and preserving the cultural heritage of Karolinska Institutet and making it available and accessible to scholars, the staff at KI and the general public (). The vice-chancellor will also shortly be appointing a working group tasked with reviewing specific issues related to KI’s historical heritage.   

Medicinvetarna [Medical Scientists], Karolinska Institutet’s own podcast (available in Swedish only), has broadcast an episode on the subject of the university’s historical heritage, which includes an extended interview with Olof Ljungström, a reader in the history of science and ideas at KI.