American Swedish Historical Museum

Paying tribute to the Delaware Valley’s first settlers

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Photo courtesy American Swedish Historical Museum
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The charming American Swedish Historical Museum, modeled after a 17th-century Swedish manor, uses a timeline, tapestry and artifacts to tell the story of the New Sweden colonists who settled the Delaware Valley in the mid-1600s even before William Penn arrived.

Three of the museum’s 12 galleries are devoted to the history of the New Sweden Colony, while the other nine galleries, decorated in various architectural styles ranging from Art Deco to Swedish farmhouse, showcase the museum’s collections of Swedish furniture, silver and handmade peasant dolls.

The Golden Map room, with its interactive guideposts, shows kids Sweden’s glorious colonial past as they are surrounded by a gold-leaf map diorama.

The History

Serving as the nation’s oldest Swedish museum, the American Swedish Historical Museum was founded in 1926, the year that marked the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The land on which the museum stands was given to colonist Sven Skute by Sweden’s Queen Christina in 1653.

The Jenny Lind exhibit reveals that the “Swedish Nightingale” was the Madonna of her day.

The building has architectural features found in Sweden’s Eriksbergs Slott mansion and George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Through education, research programs and the Valborgsmässoafton festival, which welcomes spring in the Swedish tradition, the museum continues to preserve American-Swedish culture.

Don’t Miss

A number of famous Swedes have their own exhibits: opera singer and celebrity Jenny Lind; author Carl Sandberg; scientist Glenn Seaborg and inventor/seaman John Ericsson, who developed the USS Monitor, the first ironclad ship. An exhibit is dedicated to Alfred Nobel, who invented dynamite and established the Nobel Prizes. In interactive displays, you can hear the acceptance speeches of many of the winners, including Seaborg.

The Jenny Lind exhibit in particular reveals that the “Swedish Nightingale” was the Madonna of her day: decanters, mirrors and other souvenirs with her likeness abound.


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