The American Historical Swedish Museum is located in South Philadelphia in Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park. The museum is dedicated to educating about Swedish and Swedish American culture. Founded in 1926, the museum offers exhibits of Swedish art, architecture, music, science and technology. The museum serves to highlight an important time in colonial-era American history when Swedish culture thrived in Philadelphia.
Although the museum was founded in South Philadelphia, there are very few Swedes residing in Philadelphia today, said Caroline Rossy, Membership and Marketing Coordinator of the American Swedish Historical Museum. The reason the museum’s location in South Philadelphia is because that section was originally part of the Swedish colony called New Sweden, which was founded in 1638. The Swedish dominance in this area was short lived, as the colony fell in 1655 to the Dutch. By the time Pennsylvania founder William Penn arrived in 1682 the English controlled this area.
The museum does special exhibitions two or three times a year. The current exhibition at the museum is called, “Knitting Along the Viking Trail”. The exhibit shows Viking inspired knitwear and textiles by artist, Elsebeth Lavold.
“The exhibit has become extremely popular. We’ve gotten a lot of people that have never been here coming to see that show in particular,” said Rossy.
In addition to the exhibit, the museum held a Viking Day in May 2011. The museum usually hosts Viking Day annually, however, the 2011 event was coordinated with the exhibit so that visitors would be encouraged to attend both the exhibit and event. Viking Day was an opportunity for families to come have fun while learning about Viking culture. The event had Viking re-enactors, a 40-foot replica of a Viking boat and fun Viking crafts. The event also had a tie-in promotion with the movie Thor, which had just recently been released. (Thor is a god in Viking lore.) The museum distributed movie passes to attendees of the event.
“It was nice that we had the exhibit this year to tie into Viking day because “Knitting Along the Viking Trail” talks a lot about Viking craft work and some of the things that Vikings created that people may not necessarily be aware of,” said Rossy.
The museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 10-4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday between 12-4 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, and $5 for seniors, students and children.