The National Portrait gallery of Sweden was created during the 1820s. Its location in a sixteenth century royal palace outside of Stockholm makes it an interesting example of curatorial practices and experiments from a period before the scientification and specialization of museums in the 1850s and onwards. The portrait gallery built on the traditional royal picture galleries, but with the addition of commoners who were considered ‘merited citizens’ worthy to be included in a context of nationalistic pride. The narrative of the gallery was told not only by the portraits, but was also making use of the historical palace interiors and of guide book text that tried to create a mood in the visitor with the help of romanticized anecdotes, poetry, and quotes from plays, novels, and operas. The article focuses upon the curatiorial practices, the relation to other contemporary museums, and other possible sources of inspiration.