The museum provides a new public platform for the ethnographic collections of Sweden. It also serves as a new forum for international and local events. Situated at the foot of a hill in the city centre, the museum incorporates an auditorium, research centre, library, seminar rooms, restaurant and administrative offices. The design strategy revolved around creating a clearly marked difference between a solid west wing, containing the gallery spaces and offi ces along the street, and an open east wing towards the hill, where public activities take place. Between the solid west and the open east is a canyon-like zone containing the building services, with public circulation weaving its way through the three areas.
As one goes up the building, the elements which were seen from below are gradually perceived from above, creating a sequence of reference points throughout the building with alternating views of the hill, atrium and museum.