December 11, 2016
It was the most picturesque visit imaginable!!
Pulling into the American Swedish Institute is a personal highlight at least once a year because each visit to this grand property is unique. The staff and caretakers ensure the grounds and building are immaculate; I have yet to see a single bulb not working or smudged windows or complete order in the gift shop. It's as if a few unseen elves scurry in a few times a day to keep everything in order.
Tonight's visit was special for two reasons: time spend with darling friend Stephanie Olson and my first time on a private tour of the mansion. The tour was guided by Scott Pollock, Director of Exhibitions, Collections & Programs. They served glögg – a warm, mulled wine – and a few appetizers from traditional Nordic and Jewish cuisine but it was the storytelling that made this a memorable evening. Mr. Pollock explained how the rooms are a dedication to five Nordic countries-- Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland. Each room was decorated with holiday symbols to honor the customs of Hanukkah as well as the countries they represent. The glassware and table settings are reason enough to wander each room. Add the views from several rooms with freshly fallen snow and it felt like walking into a fairy tale.
In the Swedish Room, there was an emphasis on the handcrafted glass pieces with plates recently used at the Noble Peace Prize dinner that honored Minnesota native Bob Dylan.
A 1965 Volvo was on loan from Morton Minneapolis Volvo for an uber quaint courtyard.
Our tour guide explained the home construction that began by the Turnbald Family in 1904 took four years to complete. Swam Turnbald came from a small village in Sweden at the age of 8 with his family. They originally landed 50 miles south of where the Turnbald Mansion would be built. Swam was an ambitious young man and tired of farming. Rather than being discontent, he went to work for the Svenska Amerikansak Posten, a Swedish newspaper, as a typesetter. Within 10 years he owned the most widely circulated Swedish language newspaper in America. The newspapers popularity took off when they began using color print for adult and children's cartoons, which was trendsetting in the newspaper publication industry. Mr. Turnbald acquired significant wealth and originally built the imposing structure to be a private residence. To read more about the years the family lived in the mansion and when it was donated to the American Institute for Swedish Art, Literature and Science click here.
Next year they may tackle a skating rink! My family would be thrilled to glide around the American Swedish Institute courtyard on skates. Followed by hot chocolate with whipped cream, of course.