Best of Chicago 2011!
Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration, part of Andersonville’s Swedish American Museum, was named best hands-on exhibit for kids by Chicago Magazine. Replicating a Swedish farmhouse (stuga), an immigrant steamship, and, at the journey’s end, an American log cabin, this staid-looking exhibit is in fact enthralling. Girls especially seem drawn to the striped pinafores hanging from pegs near the entrance and will spend hours harvesting wooden vegetables and eggs, milking the fake cow and hanging laundry on the line with old-fashioned clothespins.
The museum, which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, is more than ever at the heart of the historic Andersonville district of Chicago. Now a vibrant and diverse community, the area was first settled by Swedish immigrants who moved into the area after the Chicago fire of 1871. Laws restricting the building of homes out of wood were introduced after the fire and the Swedish immigrants who could not afford to make their homes with stone or brick relocated north of what was then Chicago city lines.
For more info, see Swedish American Museum

Expansion at Vesterheim
Queen Sonja of Norway, visiting Luther College and Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum with HRH King Harald V, dedicates Vesterheim’s new addition, the Asbjørnsen Gallery, on October 13. By consolidating two stores next to the Visitors Center and moving the museum store to this new area, the museum freed up space to create this new gallery space on the first floor, which will be used for rotating exhibitions.
Sigvald Asbjørnsen, born in Oslo, immigrated to the United States in 1892 seeking greater artistic opportunities. After some time in Michigan he moved permanently to Chicago, Illinois. His best-known work is a statue of explorer Leif Ericson, located in Humboldt Park in Chicago.
For more info see Norwegian-American Museum Vesterheim


The Danish Villages
The Danish immigrant landscape architect Jens Jensen is acknowledged in the Jens Jensen Prairie Landscape Park, currently being developed in the backyard of the Danish Immigrant Museum in Elk Horn, IA. Jensen, one of America's greatest landscape designers and conservationists of the early 20th century designed several elements of the Chicago Park system, as well as hundreds of landscapes for wealthy industrialists, schools and universities.
The park, expected to be fully installed in June 2012, is the first step of a long term plan that will effectively change the entire community, called Danish Villages Great Place. The Danish Villages in Iowa, Kimballton and Elk Horn, are working together with the museum to create a model green community based on the practices currently used in Denmark. The Great Place entails a "bridge" from the past—showcasing the Danish Windmill, Danish Immigrant Museum, Little Mermaid and other attractions—to the future with new technologies, including solar power and green roofs. Plans are to incorporate the Prairie Park into The Little Mermaid Trail, a trail which will begin at the bronze sculpture of the Little Mermaid in Kimballton and end at the Iowa Welcome Center on the Danish Windmill grounds in Elk Horn, with stops at The Danish Immigrant Museum, new Conference Center, city parks and ballparks.
For more info see The Danish Immigrant Museum

Turnblad Mansion opens for Christmas
The American Swedish Institute’s Turnblad Mansion is set to reopen to the public on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011, following a six-month closure for remodeling. ASI’s annual Christmas Fair will be held on Saturday, Nov. 19 and the annual Nordic Christmas Rooms display, featuring holiday table settings, trees and décor in the traditions of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, will have a special focus on handcraft this year.
The recent remodeling was part of a larger campus expansion project that includes construction of the 34,000-square-foot Nelson Cultural Center addition, set to open in June 2012. The new addition will make it possible to better preserve the original Turnblad Mansion by housing offices, museum shop and gallery along with a café and crafts workshop areas.
For more info, see American Swedish Institute

CAP: The Turnblad Mansion, built in 1908 by a Swedish immigrant family on Minneapolis’s Park Avenue.