Linnaeus’ Natural History Museum
At the highest point in the park is Linnaeus’ natural history museum, built in 1769. ‘My palace in heaven’ is what he called this little stone building. Here he kept his natural history collection, safe from the dangers of fire and flood. Outside the museum he also taught his students, a fact recalled by the strange piece of furniture known as the ‘plugghäst’, or ‘study horse’.
The great fire that had swept Uppsala in 1766 had come very close to Linnaeus’ house in the Svartbäcken area of the city. It had reminded Linnaeus of an earlier blaze in 1702, in which his predecessor Olof Rudbeck the Elder had seen his great herbarium and his flora project Campus Elysii go up in smoke. For fear of fire, Linnaeus no longer dared keep his natural history collections in town. He therefore had this small building constructed, in stone and with no fireplace, at a safe distance from the main house.
The museum took just a fortnight to build and was opened on 21 May 1769. Two months later, Linnaeus wrote in a letter to his friend Abraham Bäck: ‘I am now lying in my summerhouse on my high hill, delighting in my old age in the fresh air, the prospect [view], my natural specimens and the innocence of country life.’