Special Exhibits

Main Gallery

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.

Read about this and other exhibits in Chicago in Travelmag.


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: