Philly Visitor Guide
American Swedish Historical Museum
This charming 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 before William Penn.
Three of the musuems 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.
A number of famous Swedes have their own exhibits: opera singer/celebrity Jenny Lind; author Carl Sandberg; scientist Glenn Seaborg and inventor/seaman John Ericsson, who developed the first ironclad ship, the Monitor. 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.
Serving as the nation’s oldest Swedish museum, the building 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 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.