Museum Expansion

On Sept. 8, 2017 the Swedish American Museum at 5211 N. Clark St., Chicago, purchased the three-story building on its north side for future expansion. “On the heels of the return of our rooftop water tank, this opportunity to grow is exciting to us,” said Executive Director Karin Moen Abercrombie.

Planning has begun for eventual use of the facility when the leases of current occupants expire. In addition to the retail storefront at 5217 N. Clark St., apartments are located on the second and third floors.

The acquisition is independent of current Museum improvements at 5211 that are supported by the 40th Anniversary Campaign. Commercial financing was secured to make the purchase.

Abercrombie stressed the cultural impact of Museum enlargement on enhancing the Scandinavian character of the historic community, where in recent years some local Swedish businesses have closed.

“We are excited with this chance to help continue the work of making Andersonville a wonderful neighborhood with a significant history,” Abercrombie said, noting that the expansion will add almost 20% street level presence for the Museum.

Architecturally, the adjoining buildings are remarkably similar. The 5217 structure was built by Swedish architect Anders (Andrew) Norman in 1914. Sources suggest that he may have been involved in designing the original 5211 building. He also was the architect for nearby Ebenezer Lutheran Church in 1904.

Museum Youth Intern Selected for Fifth Star Rising Star Honor Roll 2017

The Museum’s IAC youth intern Renee Freville has been selected as a member of this year’s Fifth Star Rising Star Honor Roll. Renee will represent the Swedish American Museum as a visual artist at the 2017 Fifth Star Honors presented by Allstate Insurance Company.

The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events will honor four Chicago artists and institutions as well as 25 outstanding young artists for their contributions to the city’s cultural landscape at the 4th annual Fifth Star Honors event. The 2017 honorees include hip hop artist and actor Common, celebrated architect Jeanne Gang, artist Kerry James Marshall and the legendary Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

The event will feature live performances and tributes recognizing this year’s honorees and their artistic work. The City of Chicago will honor outstanding youth with The Rising Star Honor Roll – a recognition program for students who show creative leadership, passion and exceptional skill in the arts.

“Living in Chicago has opened up so many doors and caused me to have so many experiences that I probably wouldn’t have had anywhere else. Anywhere I go there seems to be some type of artistic expression. From Oak Park to the Southside there is always some type of piece that brings people together and shows passion,” said Renee Freville of her hometown.

When speaking of her art pieces she submitted for the Rising Star Honor Roll, Renee said, “Growing up as a woman in the United States I never had put much thought into the regular struggles we have to endure. I had always been passionate regarding the topic of sexual assault and continuously puzzled by the assumptions of the victim when the word ‘rape’ is used. It was not until I began working on this piece that I looked back on my life and really thought about every time my mother told me to change my clothes because there are people out there that don’t think like us. Every time I was walking to a friend’s house and I got catcalled. Every time the topic of sexual assault became too shy of a subject to discuss. A dear friend of mine had been a victim of sexual assault. When she finally worked up the courage to tell me, the most heartbreaking thing she said was that she was embarrassed and ashamed that she could not stop it. So in honor of her, I dedicate this piece to every victim that has ever felt sorry or ashamed that they were unable to do anything, because it is not their fault. Rape will never be the victims fault.”

Of Renee’s second piece pictured to the right, she said, “Never completely grow up. It sounds like a silly thing to say, but as we grow older some of us forget the importance of keeping that certain bit of our childlike essence. The inspiration for this piece came when I was walking through a very peculiar garden shop located in the middle of a forest down in Arkansas. I will always remember the beautiful way the sunlight shone through the trees and the smile of various flowers, but the thing that has resonated most with me is this little porcelain fairy baby. During this time I was very stressed about, what I like to look back and call, ‘adult issues,’ and this little porcelain fairy baby, so innocent and peaceful looking, and it stuck with me. Through this piece I wanted to depict an almost dream like, blurry state of mind surrounding the essence of innocence. There might be dark shadows in one’s life, but as long as some tiny bit of hope is kept there will be a light at the end of the tunnel.”


From left to right: Stacey Nyman, Renee Freville, and Karin Moen Abercrombie

Update as of 8/29/17
: The 2017 Rising Star Honor Roll inductees were honored at a special reception at the Chicago Cultural Center on August 22 prior to the Fifth Star Honors show and concert at Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion on August 28.

Stacey Nyman, the Museum’s education manager, inductee Renee Freville, and the Museum’s executive director, Karin Moen Abercrombie are pictured to the left at the Rising Star Honor Roll ceremony at the Chicago Cultural Center on Aug. 22.

Andersonville Water Tank Erected Aug. 8

Installation of the new blue-and-yellow Andersonville Water Tank on the roof of the Swedish American Museum is scheduled for tomorrow, Aug. 8. Clark Street will be closed from Foster to Farragut to accommodate two lifting cranes starting at 7 a.m. and will remain closed until the project is complete later in the day. Onlookers are advised to avoid the East sidewalk on Clark between Foster and Farragut. We will have staff guiding when viewers can be on the west side of Clark Street to watch or south of Foster and north of Farragut.

The Museum will be closed to the public all day to ensure everyone’s safety while the tower is being placed on the roof.

More than three years after the historic blue-and-yellow Andersonville water tank was removed from the roof of the Swedish American Museum, the replica has undergone assembly in the Museum parking lot for the last few weeks prior to tomorrow’s installation.

The tank had to be taken down from the Museum roof in March 2014 after it was damaged beyond repair during an extremely harsh winter. Funding for construction and erection of a replacement was realized through large and small contributions. An impressive $165,000 was raised and the remaining cost was covered by the Swedish American Museum.

The three-story building where the water tank stood was built for the Lind Hardware Store in 1927. Water from the wooden tank served as a fire-suppression system for almost a century, but the fiberglass replica will not contain water.

The Swedish American Museum relocated to the vacant building in 1987, and the tank was painted in the colors of the Swedish flag about 20 years ago. It is considered a beacon of the Andersonville community.

This project was made possible by the support of

Donors and Community
Karin Moen Abercrombie
Miles Lindblad
Mark Schall
Kevin Kazimer
Arcorp Structures
Industrial Fiberglas, Inc.
Perry & Associates, LLC.
Swedish American Museum

Thank you!

Swedish American Museum Blends Contemporary Swedish Culture With An American Flare

Story preview: “Located in the heart of Andersonville, Illinois, the Swedish American Museum has been providing a glimpse into Swedish heritage to the most traditionally Swedish area of Chicago for over 40 years. Andersonville has long been known for its Swedish roots, boasting an active tourist population looking to purchase Swedish foods, gifts, and partake in Swedish holidays.” – Elisha Neubauer.

Read more here: Swedish American Museum Blends Contemporary Swedish Culture With An American Flare.

New in the Kerstin Andersson Museum Store

storeComing this spring to the Kerstin Andersson Museum Store is a product that will make pet lovers howl. Happy
Pet Project Ceramic Food and Water Bowls, from Magisso, are ceramic bowls designed especially for your
dogs’ and cats’ dining pleasure and health. Self-cooling ceramic pet bowls will keep pet food and water cool for hours, keeping food fresh without the need of a refrigerator, even on a warm day. All you have to do is run the bowl under cold water for 60 seconds.

The neat thing about terracotta is that, when wet, it creates its own refrigeration using a system of heat exchange. The unglazed, porous terracotta surface absorbs the water and sends it back to the outer surface. When the water makes contact with the air, evaporation occurs and, as the liquid water turns to gas, the reaction cools the object and whatever is inside. This process goes on for hours with only a 60-second initial contact with water. You cannot see the science, but you can see the design, and these are ingenious and stylish bowls. The exterior, matte, terracotta colors come in black and soft pink and blue. Inside, each bowl is glazed in a glossy cream surface safe for food.

In addition to plain bowls, the series also includes the Happy Pet Project Slow Dining Bowls. These bowls have all of the same features as the original bowls but have an added three-dimensional shape rising from the bottom of the bowl. Dog bowls, large and small, feature bones and cat bowls, fish. Veterinarians praise the Slow Dining Bowls for helping pets with overeating issues by preventing the ability to gulp food. This aids in chewing and is ultimately good for dental hygiene. Even if you do not have a pet, think about getting one to set outside for the hot and thirsty pets in your neighborhood.

– Melissa Weems, Store Manager

New Faces at the Museum

We would like to take this opportunity to introduce some of the new faces you might have seen around the Museum. Rebekah, Scott, Luana and Madeleine have come on board to offer the Museum their skills and talents as volunteers.

2017 volunteers

New 2017 Volunteers: Rebekah Kunes (top left), Scott Jauch (top right), Luana Lucato (bottom left) and Madeleine Strömback (bottom right)

Rebekah has recently joined us to “support the Museum in its mission of education; preserving and sharing the history of Sverige and Svensk immigrants to the United States.” Her parents came from Sweden (she is half Sami) and she is hoping to learn more about Swedish culture and her heritage. Rebekah lives in Evanston and works as a nanny now that her three children have gone off to college.

Scott recently moved to Chicago and is “hoping to get involved in [his] new neighborhood” by learning about one of the biggest cultural aspects of Andersonville. After graduating from the University of Indiana in December, Scott transported himself here and currently works at Berlin Packaging. Scott thoroughly enjoys running, volunteering, reading and meeting new people.

Luana and her husband recently moved to Chicago from Australia but she is originally from Brazil where she worked in marketing and advertising. While in Chicago, she is studying integrated marketing and is working to improve her English at DePaul University. She is very excited to learn about two cultures during her time here in Chicago.

Madeleine has joined us from Stockholm, Sweden. She moved to Chicago to pursue her master’s degree in integrated marketing communications. She hopes to help the Museum reach a larger audience. Currently the Museum has four interns who look to gain valuable skills to take with them in future endeavors.

2017 Interns: Maribel Ruiz, Sarah Meister, and Mary Kate Williams

We have two interns working with the Kerstin Andersson Museum Store and Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration, one with marketing and
communication and one with the curator. Sarah and Maribel are currently
working with the Museum Store but will soon start their work in the Children’s Museum. Both study psychology with an emphasis on early childhood at Northeastern Illinois University.

Sarah is a senior who will be graduating in May. She reflected on her experience interning at the Museum Store saying, “Out of this experience, I hope to gain a better understanding of the museum industry as a whole.” Sarah hopes to one day be a dance therapist to help children on the autism spectrum.

Maribel has a passion for working with children. As an intern at the Museum, she “hopes to learn the ways the museum presents cultural and immigration information to visitors of all ages.” After graduation, Maribel hopes to put what she learned toward her childhood psychology emphasis.

The communications department has gained a new intern, Mary Kate, who is an avid fan of museums and all things history. Mary Kate is a junior studying communication with an emphasis on film at Loyola University Chicago. She explains her love for historic institutions such as ours, saying, “Learning about new and interesting aspects of cultures and history is fascinating and a humbling way to realize how interconnected we all are on this earth.” Mary Kate helps with social media, marketing, planning and promoting for the Museum. She is very fond of her time here and hopes to one day go into museum work and create documentaries.


Moa Konow Hoffman

Moa is currently studying curatorial studies at Stockholm University with an emphasis on historical artifacts. She has a BA degree in Fashion Studies and a great interest in the cultural heritage of traditional Nordic folk costumes and the relationship between clothing and national identity. Moa hopes to learn more about the curatorial work at the museum and the Swedish-American culture.

Interns and volunteers are an integral part of the running of our Museum – they offer as much as they learn to our community here. It is our goal to make interns feel appreciated and valued while they are learning valuable, practical skills for their future endeavors.

– Mary Kate Williams

Recent Press

Swedish pressCheck out the Museum in the latest Swedish Press issue featuring Chicago. Discover the history of Swedes in Andersonville, meet some of the Swedish organizations in Chicago, and learn how the Swedish American Museum came to be.

We are also proud to be featured with Andersonville in the March 2017 issue of Passport Magazine! Passport recently named Andersonville the “Windy City’s best gay neighborhood that celebrates the indie spirit.” The Museum was also featured in Choose Chicago‘s ongoing series, “Exploring Chicago A–Z.”

For the latest news on our fundraising efforts to restore the Andersonville Water Tower, you can read about the online fundraising sale that the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce is organizing in collaboration with Everything But The House on Edgeville BuzzDNA Info and CBS Chicago.

Andersonville Water Tower Replacement Coming Soon

Water TowerToday marks three years since the Andersonville Water Tower was removed after the extraordinarily harsh winter of 2014. For nearly 90 years, it proudly served as a landmark for our neighborhood. Thanks to all of your support, we are excited to share that we will be announcing details regarding the replacement very soon. Stay tuned for exciting news! If you’d like to help us, please visit our Support page.

Fun for Everyone in Andersonville

KristineCasartPhotography-ChicagoPhotographer-EvanstonPhotographer-SwedishAmericanMuseum-31Looking for something fun to do? Chicago Parent offers some great ideas for a family day in Andersonville, including playtime at our Children’s Museum, brunch at one of the many great neighborhood spots, pie at First Slice Pie Cafe, story time at Women & Children First Bookstore and a performance from the Puppet Bike!

Taylor Wood says, “The Swedish American Museum is often considered the epicenter of Andersonville and for good reason. This little museum is both informative and fun for anyone who visits.” Visit Chicago Parent to read the full article.

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