Special Exhibits

Main Gallery

Swedish Folk Painting: Tradition and Change
Alison Aune, Pieper Bloomquist and Åse Larsjos

Sept. 9 – Nov. 27, 2022
Exhibit Opening, Friday, Sept. 9, 6 p.m. – Gallery walk with artists and lecture by Pieper Bloomquist starting at 6:30 p.m. The opening is in person but the lecture can be joined via Zoom. To join the Zoom please click here.
Painting workshop for kids, Saturday, Sept. 10, 10 a.m. – noon with Alison Aune (Reservations can be made here)
Painting workshop for adults, Saturday, Sept. 10, 12:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. with Åse Larsjos (Reservations can be made here)

Master folk artists Alison Aune, Pieper Bloomquist, and Åse Larsjos have studied, taught, and transformed traditional Swedish dalmålningar art from Dalarna. Their works reviving and reimagining the possibilities of Swedish folk art for the contemporary day will be exhibited alongside historic pieces from the Swedish American Museum collection. Come see the evolution of Swedish folk with its characteristic floral kurbits (fantastical gourd flowers) and decorative figurative bonadsmåleri painting from the southern provinces of Småland and Halland from hundreds of years ago to today!

Painted Bonader

Exhibit Open from Saturday, Dec. 10, 11 a.m.
Exhibit Closes on Monday, Jan. 9, 4 p.m.

One of the most remarkable examples of Scandinavian folk art is the painted picture indigenous to the Swedish peasant home. The commonly used name for these peasant paintings is bonader, and their provenance was to decorate the walls and ceilings of the homes at Christmas time and on feast days, thus adding a note of color and gaiety to the otherwise dark interiors. Between festivities, these canvas or paper panels were taken down and carefully kept, to become a part of the family inheritance. The collection of bonader at the Museum is a collection of extraordinary works on linen and paper, with vegetable and mineral pigments that achieve arrays of color. They were sized for specific wall spaces and hung unframed. Several of the artists were identified, and more than 100 may have practiced the craft. Donated to the Museum in 2000 by the Art Institute of Chicago, the 29 Bonader represent the eighth largest known collection. They originated in 1931 among acquisitions from world traveler Florence Dibell Bartlett of Chicago. Inspired by what she viewed as a decline in creation of folk art, Bartlett acquired pieces she found in 37 countries. She was the founder in 1953 of the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Arctic Highways

Exhibit Open from Friday, Jan. 13, 11 a.m.
Exhibit Closes on Sunday, April 2, 4 p.m.

This exhibit discusses the exploitation of Indigenous land and how imposed boarders of nation states has erased the natural land borders used by Indigenous peoples. Nine Sami artists and three Indigenous artists from Canada and the United States want to use this exhibit to start a dialogue, raise questions, and establish way points between their culture and ours. This exhibit takes us on a journey through an Arctic highway of culture and life, stretching from the past into the future.


Raoul Wallenberg Gallery

From the Vault: Landscapes, Immigrants and Female Artists of the 20th Century

Exhibit Open from Friday, Aug. 26, 10 a.m.
Exhibit Closes on Monday, Jan. 2, 4 p.m.

This exhibit features artwork by Swedish and Swedish-American artists from the Swedish American Museum’s permanent collection. With a focus on female artists, the artwork on display is a good representation of the work the Museum has collected over time and explores missing perspectives. Women and minority artists are often under-represented in museum collections and we recognize is important to acknowledge these holes in our collection. From the Vault explores artwork from twelve different artists, each with a unique background and connection to the Swedish/ Swedish-American community.


Sponsors of our Special Exhibits: