The rapid development of Sweden's heritage institutions at the start of the twentieth century—particularly the establishment of the Swedish National Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieämbetet) in 1938—is often described as a success story, especially in relation to the expansion of the organization. This article discusses that claim and qualifies it, noting the complex social relationships and political tensions that shaped Swedish preservation institutions. Socially, the Swedish notion of heritage emerged out of a combination of two strands: a folk preservation movement and an academically institutionalized antiquarian tradition led by scientifically trained scholars. The former had emerged as a reaction against the loss of traditional vernacular life and values caused by modernization, while the latter was a continuation of the historicism that had dominated nationalist institutions since the nineteenth century. The new National Heritage Board brought together these two strands by incorporating provincial museums originally developed by the folk movement into a broad, nationally administered network controlled by scholars. The article traces the development of the National Heritage Board and the subsequent challenges to it during the Folkhem period (from the 1930s to the 1970s), the formative decades of the Social Democratic Party's welfare s tate.