Sunday’s Site – American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis

The American Swedish Institute is a museum, education and research organization housed in a stunning turn-of-the-century mansion completed in 1908 for Swedish immigrants Swan and Christina Turnblad.


It seems hard to imagine building this 33-room castle-like mansion as a home for a small family with only one child and modest social ambitions. When Turnblad donated the property to establish the "American Institute for Swedish Arts, Literature and Science" in 1929 it made sense… it had been his plan from the beginning.

Swan Turnblad's family was part of the wave of 150,000 Swedish immigrants who came to the US between 1861 and 1881,  fleeing their homeland because of sweeping famine due to an exploding population and scarce tillable land. His family settled in a small community in southern Minnesota, but he was not content to continue in the family farming tradition and moved to Minneapolis. There he lived a rags-to-riches story publishing a Swedish newspaper.

Today, the Turnblad mansion is a blend of period rooms and exhibit galleries which showcase art and and artifacts from the American Swedish Institute's permanent collection as well as special exhibits, many of which come directly from Sweden. A magnificent mahogany two-story fireplace is the focal point of the majestic Grand Hall, and 11 distinctive porcelain tile stoves (kakelugnar) are found throughout the mansion.

When I stopped by on Friday it was a busy afternoon, with visitors coming and going the whole time I was there. The current exhibit, 17 Swedish Designers, runs through the end of May and features the work of contemporary Swedish designers… all young, progressive women spanning a wide variety of design fields including glass, ceramics, textiles, architecture, furniture, industrial design, interior design and graphic design. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday 12-4 (Wednesday until 8) and Sunday 1-5.

Sharlene Hensrud, RE/MAX Results -


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I love what I do! Highly insightful, analytical and creative, there is nothing I love more than helping you find the right solution for your real estate transition. My mission is to serve my clients with honesty and integrity, exceeding their expectations in service and support… and to help others by donating a portion of every transaction to Habitat for Humanity.

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