Architect John Nydén, a Swedish-American from Chicago, designed the building to reflect both Swedish and American architectural elements. The Swedish inspiration comes from Eriksberg, a 17th century manor house in Södermanland, Sweden. The copper cupola on top of the museum is a copy of the one on top of Stockholm’s City Hall. The American influence is represented by the exterior arcades, which are modeled after George Washington’s home Mount Vernon.
Facing the staircase, the mural to the right, Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, features Count Axel von Fersen and represents Swedish contributions to America’s efforts for independence from Great Britain.
A mural on the left side, Signing of the Declaration of Independence, shows John Morton, an influential descendant of the original Swedish and Finnish settlers and the building’s namesake, signing the Declaration of Independence on behalf of Pennsylvania.