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.

Our Genealogy Center is Expanding

GENEALOGY1As part of our 40th Anniversary Campaign, we are upgrading 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.

Thanks to the support of our genealogy donors, we were able to reach our goal of $10,000 by Dec. 31, 2016. We also received a generous matching grant of $10,000 from the Olson Family Foundation.

We are looking forward to keeping you posted on our expansion plans, and hope to see you at our new and improved Genealogy Center soon!

– Allison Deerr, Fundraising Coordinator 

Meet the Volunteer: Diana Gardner

Diana GardnerIt’s hard to believe Diana Gardner has been volunteering with us for less than a year. She made her home in Bristol, Rhode Island before moving back to Chicago. Diana has always been connected to Chicago and chose to return to be near her family and friends.

There was something Diana missed when she made Chicago her home once again. In Rhode Island Diana had the opportunity to volunteer at Blithewold Mansion for several years. “I enjoyed welcoming guests and giving a little history of the Van Winkle Family whose daughter Marjorie saved the mansion, with all the furnishings, for the state of Rhode Island. Once I got settled in Chicago I wanted to volunteer and hoped to find a place as special as Blithewold.”

Once her son found her an apartment for her in Andersonville, it wasn’t long before Diana found the Swedish American Museum. It was in walking distance of her place and attracted her right away. According to Diana she knew she wanted to volunteer at the Museum with its wonderful and kind staff and volunteers. For her she observed that the Museum “is a peaceful, comfortable, mid-sized museum that does big things.”

Diana has enjoyed volunteering at the front desk, welcoming guests, answering questions and providing information. Her enthusiasm is contagious. She has also helped with many special events and programs for both children and adults including breakfasts, dinners, concerts and wonderful art exhibits. Diana also threw herself into preparations and pricing for Tantalizing Treasures.

According to Diana, “The whole experience of being a volunteer at the Swedish American Museum is a very fulfilling one for me with its wonderful community of volunteers, staff and guests. I am always meeting and enjoying visitors from around the world. It’s a happy place to volunteer and there is so much to learn about the history of the many interesting families who immigrated from Sweden.”

From the vantage point of the front desk, Diana also enjoys seeing the excited faces of our youngest guests coming to the Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration. Diana said about these visitors and their families, “Electronics are put away and imaginations engage—priceless in this day and age.”

Diana makes a point to say, “You don’t have to be Swedish to volunteer at the Swedish American Museum, just bring your enthusiasm and your smile. I have been blessed to find great joy here.” She is a wonderful representative of the spectacular volunteers we have at the Museum and we look forward to her contributions for years to come.

– Elizabeth Cline, Membership and Volunteer Manager

Meet the Interns: Britney Scott and Maria Marszalek


Britney Scott

This spring the Museum has hosted two interns: Britney Scott, a freshman marketing major at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Maria Marszalek, a senior psychology major at Northeastern Illinois University.

Britney has worked primarily in support of the Museum’s marketing efforts. She has contributed to marketing committee meetings, created posters and flyers, promoted events online and learned about using InDesign, among other things. She has also shadowed other members of staff to give her a broader idea about Museum operations and activities.

When asked what made her choose the Swedish American Museum for her internship Britney said, “I wanted to intern at a non-profit organization to expand on my past business experiences and expose myself to how a non-profit operates. Because I study Swedish in my spare time and have developed an interest in Swedish culture, the Museum stood out as a natural choice to both satisfy my personal interest and develop skills that will be relevant to my career path in marketing.”

Maria Marszalek

Maria Marszalek

Maria has been working at the Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration, where she has been creating parts of the program for this year’s Pioneer the World Day Camp. It has been a positive experience for Maria to see firsthand how interactive and culturally-rich the Brunk Children’s Museum is and learning more about the importance of those two factors in child development

At the Swedish American Museum Maria has enjoyed “being able to relate my own culture and immigration history to the one of the Swedish people. My family and I are immigrants from Poland and can relate to many of the struggles our Swedish and Polish ancestors faced.”

On what her Museum experience has taught her Maria said, “One thing that I will take away from my internship is the importance of preserving culture, history and being able to share that within the community. With Chicago being such a diverse city it is so important to share where you came from and be proud of the path our ancestors paved for us.”

The Museum offers internship opportunities year-round in a variety of fields from curatorial internships to those focused on education, marketing or development. The benefit of interning in a mid-sized museum such as the Swedish American Museum is that interns receive exposure to multiple areas and are often given the chance to create small projects all their own.

– Lesli Proffitt Nordstrom, Marketing Manager

40th Anniversary Celebrations

Kurt Mathiasson

Kurt Mathiasson, founder of the Swedish American Museum

2016 is an exciting year for the Museum as we celebrate our 40th anniversary, as well as Brunk’s 15 fantastic years. What started out as a small storefront log cabin in 1976, has evolved into the renowned Chicago landmark that it is today thanks to the dedication and support of our leaders, both past and present. Founded by Kurt Mathiasson, the Swedish immigrant affectionately known as the “Mayor of Andersonville,” the Museum’s first location served as a modest symbol of Swedish-American culture and heritage in Chicago. While humble in size, Mathiasson’s cabin was still able to garner the attention of his majesty Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden, who was present for the Museum’s opening day during the U.S. Bicentennial Year.

As the Museum grew and increased in support and popularity, we moved to our current location in 1987, the former site of Lind Hardware. Once again, the King of Sweden returned to celebrate a new beginning with the Queen by his side. Building on that excitement, Mayor Eugene Sawyer was inspired to declare 1988 the “Year of New Sweden” and the city of Chicago donated $40,000 to the Museum.

In the late 1990s, the Museum underwent renovations adding new gallery space and the “Dream of America” exhibit. This exhibit was made possible by the generous donations of the Nordiska Museet in Stockholm, Sweden. Renovation continued in the early 2000s when the grand staircase was added, providing direct access to the second floor exhibit. We then opened our doors to the nation’s first children’s immigration museum–the Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration.

In 2006, we celebrated 30 years with the “A New Face in Andersonville” campaign, which brought about a modernized front façade and signage, as well as the Kerstin Andersson Museum Store and the remodeled Barbro Osher Lobby. Seven years later, our Buzz Aldrin exhibit became a permanent addition to the Children’s Museum and we acquired a dedicated parking lot thanks to the Nelson Funeral Home.

Today, as we are inspired by our early leaders to continue our mission into the future, we are embracing fresh opportunities for growth that enable us to better connect with new generations. With the one million dollars we hope to raise with our 40th Anniversary Campaign, we plan to give visitors a deeper understanding and appreciation for the ongoing immigration story. We will continue to build the Museum’s reputation as a premier destination for Swedish art, history and culture through interactive exhibits, digital storytelling, and an improved Genealogy Center.

Our plans include increasing opportunities for involvement for students, young adults and families, through modernized classroom areas and technology updates. We also intend to expand the Kerstin Andersson Museum Store and open an adjacent Swedish café that will help preserve Swedish heritage in Andersonville.

We ask you to join us in realizing this vision that will serve our community well into the next 40 years. We invite you to commemorate 2016 with our 40 and 15-year birthday celebrations, the arrival of the new Andersonville Water Tower replica, and the launch of our 40th Anniversary Campaign.

– Allison Deerr, Fundraising Coordinator 

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