The largest of the towns was Pompeii, which was “rediscovered" in the 1740s.
When the ex-cavation of Pompeii started in 1748 a number of key discoveries were made that increased knowledge about antiquities.
This was not only due to the excess of rococo, inspired by shells and scroll-like forms, but also because of its shallowness and affectation.
Rococo gave way to Neoclassicism, described as being of high moral stature, noble austerity and harmonic beauty
Greek art and architecture served as guidance. And most admired and imitated of all was the Doric style, calm and restful in its steadfastness.
The rising interest for the ancient world also lead to excavations in and around Rome, which at times degenerated into a pure treasure hunt.
The market was dominated by the Holy See and well-to-do customers outside Italy, primarily royal houses and nobility.
The Swedish King Gustav III also made such a journey southbound heading for Italy and Rome. The trip took place quite late in his live and lasted from September 1783 to August 1784, of which he spent approximately half the time in Italy.
Even though he travelled incognito as the Count of Haga, it was already know that the Swedish King was a prospective buyer of marble sculptures and art objects.
The visit to the papal “gallery of muses" served as guidance for Gustav III´s acquisitions of ancient statues and their later exhibition after his death in 1792.
Gustav commissioned artist Bénigne Gagneraux to depict the meeting with the Pope.
Not all the muses were originally created as muses, but were complemented and provided with the suitable attributes by art dealers and those carrying out the restoration.
They were also skilful at concealing fractures and joints from added sections.
It is also important to remember that all objects, with the exception of their additions, are of classical origin and that most of the larger statues are more or less free Roman interpretations of Greek motif.
The collection was intended for Gustav III´s planned palace in Haga.
Sweden, before being so void of classical sculptures, had now suddenly been enriched.
In order for the collection to be useful from an educational perspective it was also available to a certain extent to artists and interested amateurs from the upper classes.
According to the charter of the foundation that established the museum, it was founded as a tribute to the dead king “for his efforts as a protectorate of art in his lifetime."
He had earlier already assisted Gustav III in the acquisition of the collection and was one of the first to carry out systematic excavations at the Forum Romanum in Rome.
Nicodemus Tessin the Younger would most likely have preferred the Orangery at Ulriksdal instead.
However the Stockholm palace location meant that the architect Carl Fredrik Sundvall did not need to make any extensive changes to adapt the rooms to the requirements of a museum.
The museum changed character in the 1800s in that space was made for modern sculptures of the period. Artist such as Johan Tobias Serge, Niclas Byström and Erland Fogelberg exhibited their work in the museum.
In conjunction with this the interiors were revamped. Cupboards and shelves disappeared and the room was given a new colour replacing that from the 1700s.
Later as the collection of art grew, it became clear that the museum space at the palace was not large enough.
The new museum, to which the Royal Museum ´s collecti-on was transferred, was given the name National Museum (National Gallery).
It was a suitable name as the museum, in addition to housing art collections, also was intended to house the state´s Historical Museum, Coin Cabinet and the Royal Armoury.
When the library was given its own building in Humlegården in 1877, the museum was rebuilt to house the Royal Armoury collections, which were exhibited here between 1884 and 1906.
After 1906, the museum was used for diverse purposes.
The initiative to return Gustav III collection of antiquities to their original home was partly taken by the National Museum and by the Office of the Governor of the Royal Palaces.
The king at that time, Gustaf VI Adolf, was enthusiastic about the idea and palace architect Ivar Tengbom was responsible for the renovation.
The renovation carried out in the 1950s encompassed mainly the large gallery and the gallery of the muses - not the entire museum.
It was possible to do this thanks to well preserved pictures, drawings and other archive material that guaranteed the original positioning of objects, architecture, colours and other decorative details.