The proposal to establish an "Institute for Advanced Studies" at Lund University was put forward in 2007 by Professor Sture Forsén and endorsed by the Council for Research Development at the university. It was formally established at Lund University by Vice-Chancellor Göran Bexell in December 2008 and was named “The Pufendorf Institute” ( Swedish: "Pufendorfinstitutet") after Samuel von Pufendorf (1632-1694), one of the University's first professors with a significant influence not only on his contemporaries but also on subsequent philosophers and statesmen. His thoughts and writings inspired among others Thomas Jefferson and are reflected in the final wordings of the “Declaration of Independence” of the United States.
During the spring of 2008, an opportunity arose to provide the institute with a home when the “Museum of Antiquity”, or “Classicum”, in the corner of Sölvegatan and Biskopsgatan was closed down. After a generous donation from the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation the building was thoroughly renovated and in May 2009 the physical Pufendorf Institute was inaugurated.