From the age of the Vikings to the settlers of the New Sweden Colony (1638-1655), to contemporary issues in Scandinavian society, the American Swedish Historical Museum will take you back in time and across the sea to learn the stories of Swedes in America.


While weaving rugs for the Larsson family’s home, a weaver happened to make a mistake urging Karin Larsson to remark “Continue… let the hand be seen”.

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Swedish Folk Weavings for Marriage, Carriage, and Home is an exhibition of rare, historical, and artful carriage cushions, chair cushions, and bed covers woven personally by or for women for their dowries and/or for the household.  Many have inscribed dates ranging from 1766 to 1837. Such textiles were used on or displayed for special occasions and were a significant form of decoration for the typical household. The design elements and patterns reflect the influence of centuries of trade since the Viking era.

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Collection Highlights

American Swedish Historical Museum - Sinnickson Chest

Iron, paint
Early to mid-17th century
Likely Denmark, Holland, or Sweden
Gift of Mrs. Norman Grey

Sinnickson Chest
Sinnick Broer, a Finn, brought this painted iron strongbox to the New Sweden colonies in 1656.

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American Swedish Historical Museum - Cloak pins

10th century
Likely Scandinavia or Ireland
Collection of the American Swedish Historical Museum

Cloak Pins
Archaeologists unearthed these cloak pins in Ireland, showing the extent to which the Vikings settled other lands.

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American Swedish Historical Museum - Grover Cleveland

Anders Zorn, after a portrait by Zorn
Ink on paper
Gift in memory of Mr. Harry C.W.S. deBrun

Etching of Grover Cleveland
The American Swedish Historical Museum is only one of six museums in the United States with a collection of Anders Zorn’s work. Our collection includes his well-known etchings of American presidents Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, and Howard Taft, among a number of other figures.

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American Swedish Historical Museum - John Ericsson Solar Model

Brass, steel, wood
c. 1880
United States
Gift of the United Engineering Trustees Inc.

John Ericsson Solar Model
Gravitational energy, solar steam engines, and tidal power … sounds like science fiction, right? Think again! Swedish-American inventor, John Ericsson, was ahead of his time when he researched such theories in the mid to late 1800s. Ericsson invented this solar-powered steam engine, for example, to reduce the use of coal.

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American Swedish Historical Museum - Viking sword

Iron, wood
9th – 12th century
Gift of Ivar Thord-Gray

Viking Sword
While we often consider the Vikings as raiders, they were also crafty merchants and brilliant navigators. Spears and shields were more common weapons for Vikings while only the wealthiest warriors carried swords.

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American Swedish Historical Museum Cane Axe

Wood, iron, mother of pearl
Late-17th/ early-18th century
Dalarna or Uppsala, Sweden
Gift of Ormond Rambo Jr. 1982.716

Cane Axe (Käppyxa)
After a decline in traditional usage, cane axes saw a renaissance by the late 1600s. Young noblemen at Uppsala University wielded these axes not in battle or mining but instead as fashionable accessories. This particular axe—with its ornate mother-of-pearl veneer and runic inscriptions—was likely part of this rebirth.

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