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Axel and Margaret Ax:son Johnson.

The Ax:son Johnson family, for which the foundation is named, has a long history of philanthropy. It started with Nordstjernan’s founder, Axel Johnson (1844–1910), whose will prescribed that a large donation was to found the Geology Department at what is now Stockholm University.

His oldest son, Axel Ax:son Johnson, continued on the path laid by his father and developed a dynamic culture of donation. Many donations were characterised by their commitment to international causes. Axel Ax:son Johnson supported research expeditions and studies in linguistics and was also involved in humanitarian aid, including during the Second World War. His support for Allied war efforts was honoured in 1948, when he was awarded The Most Excellent Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).

Axel Ax:son Johnson’s donation philosophy was guided by a faith in liberal ideals such as individualism and free enterprise. For instance, between 1944 and 1954, he provided funding to business-friendly newspapers and writers in response to Swedish finance minister Ernst Wigforss’ post-war programme, which in part aimed to nationalise Swedish businesses.

Axel Ax:son Johnson’s donation philosophy was characterised by a faith in liberal ideals such as individualism and free enterprise.

Until 1944 he was a member and financier of the Swedish Culture Council, predecessor of the Swedish Institute, and was a co-founder of WWF. In 1946, Axel Ax:son Johnson rescued the Swedish PEN Club from bankruptcy when he made the single largest donation by a private individual to the club. The funds could also be used to finance grants to study abroad. The record shows that significant funds were also given to the Swedish defence. Among other donations, large sums were given to develop the city of Sala’s anti-aircraft defences.

In 1947, Axel Ax:son Johnson, together with his wife, Margaret, founded the Axel and Margaret Ax:son Johnson Foundation for Public Benefit.


The Axel and Margaret Ax:son Johnson Foundation for Public Benefit is a private foundation with the primary purpose of promoting scientific and scholarly research.


The foundation is operational and supports research and education, arranges seminars and runs publicistic initiatives.


The foundation initiates its own research projects and does not accept applications. However, the foundation does accept proposals, when appropriate, in the form of project descriptions.