special exhibitoons

Flowers & Monsters:
Hand-carved Furniture by Karl von Rydingsvärd

On view through December 31, 2016

The American Swedish Historical Museum is excited to present our current special exhibition, Flowers & Monsters: Hand-carved furniture by Karl von Rydingsvärd, featuring stunning wood furniture from the early 20th century. This beautiful collection is not only a great example of the era’s Arts and Crafts movement, but also highlights this Swedish-born craftsman’s attention to aesthetic detail and functionality.



Workers of the World, Awaken! The Life and Legacy of Joe Hill

On view through September 4, 2016

Come celebrate the spirit of Labor Day by learning more about Joe Hill (born Joel Emmanuel Hägglund), the Swedish-American labor activist, songwriter, cartoonist, and member of the Industrial Workers of the World. Executed in 1915 by the State of Utah for a double murder in Salt Lake City, he quickly became a martyr for the cause of organized labor. His songs and letters, as well as tributes to him, galvanized striking workers throughout the 20th Century. Now, 100 years after his death, Hill’s life and work still inspire.






A Community on the Prairie: Bishop Hill, Illinois

 On view now on the Balcony Level

The Bishop Hill Colony was a religious community founded in Illinois in 1846 by Eric Janson and his followers. The small Swedish colony survived for only 15 years, but it left a lasting mark on immigration history. The exhibition, A Community on the Prairie:  Bishop Hill, Illinois, describes the formation of the Bishop Hill Colony by Swedish immigrants, the dissolution of the colony, and the growth of the village of Bishop Hill into modern times.

This traveling panel show is accompanied by Bishop Hill artifacts from our own collection. A Community on the Prairie will be on view on through the summer.

The exhibition was originated by the Bishop Hill State Historic Site, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, and organized by the Bishop Hill Heritage Association. A Community on the Prairie:  Bishop Hill, Illinois was made possible through the generous support of the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation and the Swedish Council of America.



Also currently showing



Fact and Fiction: Getting to Know Sweden's Authors

In a small exhibition located in the Kalm-Seaborg Gallery on the second floor, ASHM examines Swedish authors whose works have leaped across culture lines to impact the American literary landscape.  From Carl Linnaeus’s writings about scientific taxonomy in the 1700s to the socio-political themes explored by crime novelist Stieg Larsson in the 21st century, this “mini” exhibit features objects and images that illuminate the life and times of some of Sweden’s best-known authors.

A Common Thread: Tradition and Trend in Swedish Textiles

Whether they are created for function or fashion, Swedish textiles are well-crafted, colorful, and full of detail. A Common Thread uses the museum’s collection to explore the themes of technique, style and material employed to create Swedish clothes, weavings, embroidery, and other handiwork. The exhibition looks at the ways in which Swedish textiles communicate class, gender, cultural identity and social trends. Highlights from the collection include examples of Saami outerwear, Swedish provincial costumes, household linens, decorative wall hangings, tools and modern examples of Swedish style. A hands-on table with wool, linen, silk, leather and fur, is available for visitors to handle and explore textile materials on their own.

Sven Birger Sandzen

Sven Birger Sandzén is the featured artists on the balcony level. Sandzén was born in Blidsberg, Sweden, in 1871 and studied art in Skara, Stockholm. He moved to the United States as a young man and enjoyed a long, distinguished career as an art professor at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas. On view is a selection of Sandzén’s wood block prints, drypoints, oil paintings, watercolors, and hand-made greeting cards from the ASHM collection. 

Upcoming Exhibitions

Skål! Scandinavian Spirits, Opens January 28, 2017


Past Exhibitions

To view more information about past exhibitions at ASHM click here>>

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