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.

The Swedish American Line

Beauty, comfort, entertainment, and style. From 1915— 1975, the Swedish American Line (SAL) offered its passengers all of this and more. From its early days as a passenger fleet for immigrants to its lavish “Around the World” cruises of the 1960s, SAL played an important role in connecting Scandinavia and America. This exhibition offered visitors a rare glimpse into the “White Viking Fleet’s” history on the high seas, its exquisite style, and stories from people who remember it all.

The objects comprising this exhibition represent the collection of Torsten Torstensson, who has one of the largest assemblages of Swedish American Line memorabilia in the world. Torsten was trained as an archivist and began collecting emigration-period materials while conducting research on his relatives who immigrated to the United States in the 19th century. His research and collecting inevitably brought him to the Swedish American Line and to all the wonderful souvenirs, keepsakes, and other pieces of material culture that the “White Viking Fleet” left behind (usually by way of former passengers) when it closed in 1975.

Collecting beautiful and interesting things from the Swedish American Line is made somewhat easier by the fact that during its time (1915-1975) the company was utterly committed to quality. Fine China, gorgeous interiors detailed by famous designers, Orrfors and Kosta crystal, and even the officer’s uniforms were all top of the line products. Whether setting an elegant dinner table or properly stocking the children’s game room, SAL and the on-board staff made sure that passengers had what they needed to be comfortable. The ASHM also collected stories and photographs from former passengers, whose memories served as supplements to the unique objects on display.

Exhibition no longer on display.

American Swedish Historical Museum - Swedish American Line exhibition