The Dream of America: Swedish Immigration to Chicago

dream-of-americaOur main exhibit, The Dream of America: Swedish Immigration to Chicago, is located on the second floor of the Museum. The exhibit explores the struggles and triumphs of the Swedish immigrant experience and asks the question: would you leave home today in search of a better tomorrow?

The exhibit follows Swedish immigrants from the arduous journey to the new world to building a life and community in Chicago. It examines topics such as why so many Swedes left their homeland and what they packed for their voyage, as well as careers they chose in the Chicago area and the social lives within their immigrant communities. Visitors will encounter authentic artifacts that reflect the experiences and perspectives of immigrants – from household items they brought from Sweden and travel items such as passports and steamship tickets to memorabilia from Chicago-based Swedish-American organizations and Swedish folk crafts produced in the United States and abroad.

Visitors meet many characters within the exhibit, including, Stina Olofsdotter, who is helping her son prepare for his journey to America in 1868; Karl Karlson, whose family arrives in New York in 1893; and Elin Hedman and her daughter Birgitta who passed through Ellis Island in 1924.

Special Exhibit:

Nordic: a Photographic Essay of Landscapes, Food and People by Magnus Nilsson

Friday, June 16th – Sunday, Sept. 24
017 man

Man in a traditional mountain farmhouse, Jämtland, Sweden, Summer 2014

Acclaimed Swedish Chef, cookbook author and photographer, Magnus Nilsson will present an exhibition of his photography at the Swedish American Museum. The large-scale photographs of the Nordic countries, as well as Greenland and the Faroe Islands are drawn from his three year research and over 8000 photos for “The Nordic Cookbook” which includes over 700 recipes. This exhibit invites visitors to discover food as means for sharing heritage and culture.

This exhibit at the Swedish American Museum is made possible by the support of SWEA Chicago, the Swedish Council of America, CityArts and the MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince.

This exhibition project was originally produced by the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, with support from the Anne Ray Charitable Trust, Barbro Osher Pro Sucia Foundation, and Karin Larson. The catalog was supported by a generous gift from Chuck and Jill Koosmann.

Exhibit Opening, Friday, June 16, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Start with Art, Friday, June 30, 9 a.m. – noon

Family Night, Friday, June 30, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.


Special Exhibit:

Chicago Streetwalk by Mats Alfredsson



“For me, street photography is to discover and document what others usually don’t see. Small human events in the public space, which normally go unnoticed, but in the frozen moment leaving traces. My passion for this classic genre is based on a genuine interest in people of all ages and social classes.

Last autumn I release my first book, Chicago Streetwalk. The book is all about Chicago. A city I often return to. A legendary city that offers everything I like about street photography. Seduced by the dark alleys underneath the Loop, I see the real Gotham City. I see Batman. The iron bridges spellbind me, as well as the river, the bars, the blues and the open-minded people. This is my kind of city.

The exhibition “Streetwalk” and the book is my tribute to the Windy City and to its people. I hope that you are able to sense some of that urbanity that’s ever present here. Welcome to Chicago, spend a few moments here and perhaps wonder (as I do) about life as it is.”

Mats Alfredsson’s photographs will be accompanied by poems by Carl Sandburg.


Special Exhibit:

Christina Juran

September – November 2017

New Orleans-based artist, Christina Juran paints and sculpts the world around her in vibrant and bold ways. As one of six children in a close-knit family, Juran loved to study the paintings made by her Swedish Grandfather and the lovely hand-drawn cards that her mother made. Growing up surrounded by art and the great outdoors still shapes her work today. After working in New Mexico and California, Juran as returned to her hometown of New Orleans and currently resides in the St. Claude Arts District where she has helped open and arts center and gallery.