Author: Swedish American Museum

40th Anniversary Campaign Comes to an End

Barbara Rafaill from the Delmar & Audria M. Olson Family Foundation and Bengt Sjögren, cutting the ribbon for the new Genealogy Center.

This season has been an exciting one for the Museum and our community. With your support, we raised enough money to welcome back the Andersonville Water Tower to our neighborhood’s skyline, and celebrated with many of you who were there to watch the installation. Shortly after, we were able to secure the purchase of the building adjacent to us at 5217 N. Clark St., which we
plan to utilize as part of our expansion as the Museum continues to grow and increase our street-level presence. Last but certainly not least, we were able to close out our 40th Anniversary Campaign after raising almost $1 million thanks to your generosity.

While the tower and the new building acquisition were both financed separately from our 40th Anniversary Campaign, all of your donations for various Museum projects over the past year have
helped us work toward achieving the Museum’s long-term goals of sustainability and growth. As we approach 2018 and the end of our 40th anniversary celebration, we would like to thank all of you who supported the Museum in our endeavors to continue keeping Swedish history and culture alive on Clark Street during this important milestone.

Thanks to our donors, our 40th Anniversary Campaign has helped us create dedicated space for our
updated Genealogy Center, and allowed us to improve our second-floor exhibit space in order to better serve our visitors. We are now able to host additional special exhibits in our new second-floor art gallery that was once occupied by our conference room. Additionally, we raised $10,000 from individual genealogy donors, along with a generous matching grant of $10,000 from the Delmar
and Audria M. Olson Family Foundation, that allowed us to update our Genealogy Center with new technology and expanded public access to help our visitors research their history, connect with
their roots and discover new family members.

Also, thanks in large part to generous donations of $100,000 from Verdandi I.O.S. #3 and $75,000 from the American Daughters of Sweden to aid us in the development of a new commercial-grade kitchen, we will soon be able to help keep the taste of Sweden alive in Andersonville with
Nordic-fare favorites once the kitchen updates have been completed. With the recent closures of local Swedish businesses, we believe it is more important than ever to continue our work of making Andersonville a vibrant neighborhood that showcases our significant Scandinavian history.

We are looking forward to this new chapter as we come to the close of our anniversary celebration, and we plan to take the Museum to even greater heights in the next 40 years and beyond due to your support. Many thanks to everyone who donated to our 40th Anniversary Campaign, and special thanks to those who made contributions of almost $950,000.

– Allison Deerr

Meet the Volunteer: Marvel Pomeroy

Marvel Pomeroy, a volunteer in the Museum collections, has been a long-time visitor to Andersonville. Over the past 45 years she always made a point to shop at Erickson’s Delicatessen and the Swedish Bakery, particularly around the winter holidays where she would pick up her family’s Christmas fixings such as bread, casings and string for potato sausages, and other delightfully Swedish treats.

Marvel’s path to the Museum traces back to her degree in Human Development and her work in Childhood Development at the Erikson Institute. These lead her to the Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration in 2013, where she worked with Stacey Nyman (our Education Manager and her niece) as an educator and docent.  In addition to her work in the Children’s Museum, she often volunteered at events. Her favorite being Midsommarfest, where she really enjoys helping with crafts and games for children.

Today Marvel has taken on a different area of the Museum. She can now be found volunteering with our curator, Keith Ulrich, in Collections. She met Keith at the 40th Anniversary Reception earlier this year, and they got to talking about how she might enjoy learning about that part of the Museum. Working with the collection includes tasks such as updating the catalog, moving items and documenting their new locations, as well as helping to update the Dream of America Exhibit. Most recently she has worked on changing the look of the ‘stuga’ part of the exhibit. These changes bring new information to the exhibit.

Working with the objects and items in the Collections has allowed Marvel to reconnect with childhood memories and gain a more intimate bridge to her family history. She explains that working in the Children’s Museum gave her the opportunity to talk to present-day Swedes about modern day Swedish topics, whereas in Collections she is able to get in touch with and remember past-day Swedes such as the history of her ancestors who began immigrating from Sweden beginning in the late 1800s.

– Caroline Gerbaulet-Vanasse

Children’s Museum Garden Gets Refreshed

When thinking about planting a garden in Chicago, starting in fall isn’t usually the best idea. However, when your garden is set in pioneer America inside a children’s museum, anytime is a good time!

The garden in the Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration is one of the most heavily used features of the imaginative space. It is harvested and replanted countless times per day. Food from the garden creates grand meals served on the farm table. It is fed to caregivers who delightfully eat it with loud pretend crunches. The food is fed to the various animals throughout the Museum. Did you know that our horse prefers carrots fresh from the garden and while our mama pig likes cabbage best of all?

Because of all the love it gets, repairs are made regularly. Our docents often mend our vegetables and sometimes new ones are added. One of the features of our garden has gotten a brand new look. Our garden posts that tell guests where certain vegetables should be planted have been remade. Ed Pomeroy, one of our members, recently created 13 brand new posts with wood from his land in the Upper Penisula of Michigan (he is also to thank for the new wooden tic-tac-toe game at our coloring station outside the Children’s Museum). They were painted and placed in the garden giving it a fresh new look. Not all the posts will be used at once so we are grateful to have extras in case one breaks.

In addition to refreshing touches and repairs, we recently added a flower patch. This flower patch is nestled in the garden and contains 8 holes that hold wildflowers. Children can pick the flowers to give to a friend, display in a vase or collect in a basket. They then replant them for the next child to discover.

We welcome you to come visit to see what’s new in our garden. You are sure to be delighted by what you see, and if you stay long enough, someone might just give you a taste of the yummy bounty!

– Stacey Nyman

The Museum Welcomes New Store Manager Frida

Hej Allihopa! I am very excited to be part of the Swedish American Museum, being the store manager here could easily be described as a dream job. Becoming a part of a community so passionate and committed in celebrating Swedish history, culture and traditions.

I grew up about an hour southwest of Stockholm, in a town called Strängnäs. Although small to size, the town has significant historic value as it was here Sweden’s first king, Gustav Vasa, was elected on June 6 (Sweden’s National Day), 1523. As a result, I have throughout my upbringing always had an interest in history and how things that happened in the past still impact our lives today.

Being at the Museum I get to see first hand how Swedish culture and tradition have been transported to the US and how these are celebrated and interpreted so far from their geographic origin.

After finishing high school, I was accepted into an exchange program between North Park University in Chicago, and Södra Vätterbygdens Folkhögskola, a community college located in Jönköping, Sweden. The exchange program brought me to the US, and once it ended, I decided to stay to complete my bachelor’s degree in Global Studies at North Park. Now joining the Museum, I hope I can contribute with my experience in cultural communication, as well as bringing my personal passion for the Museum’s products and the knowledge that can be passed on through them.

Please stop by the store to say hi and take a look, or check out our web store! We have something for everyone.


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

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