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.

From the Heart, Made by Hand: Treasures from the Women of Sweden

What makes the perfect gift? For many people, it is something that is handmade. In celebration of thoughtful, handmade gifts, the ASHM is featuring one of its most cherished gifts. This exhibition includes selections of the 75 handmade textiles presented to the American Swedish Historical Museum in 1938 from every province of mainland Sweden.

Monsters and animals weave their way around these objects and delight the eye. Both explosions of color and tame geometric patterns inspire curiosity. The variety within this collection means that each object reflects elements from the Swedish provinces to Americans and Swedish Americans.

The gift speaks of more than Swedish regionalism and craft, though. In the eyes of the remarkable figure who organized the collection, these handmade gifts also represent female power. Dr. Hanna Rydh was a politician, women’s rights reformer, and Sweden’s first female archaeologist who blended academia and activism within this gift. To Rydh, handicraft—within the traditional women’s sphere—was a symbol of female accomplishment and signified their equality with men both in Sweden and America.

Explore all that these textiles communicate by visiting “From the Heart, Made by Hand: Treasures from the Women of Sweden” on view between September 16th, 2018 and March 10th, 2019! For more information about the opening event on Sep 16, press here

This exhibition is supported by grants from the ASHM Auxiliary, Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, George C. and Esther Ann McFarland Foundation, Midsommarklubben, Swedish Council of America, and an anonymous foundation. Support provided by the Philadelphia Cultural Fund. Funding for the American Swedish Historical Museum is supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

ASHM textile exhibit credit line