The American Swedish Historical Museum
Preserving and interpreting material culture, exploring cultural identity
The American Swedish Historical Museum (ASHM), situated in Philadelphia’s FDR Park, was founded in 1926 to be a permanent monument to Swedish contributions in the ongoing story of America. Today, ASHM’s galleries host both permanent and temporary exhibitions of art and culture related to Sweden, Swedish-American history, and Nordic culture in general.
Taking a broad view of what a museum should be and do, ASHM’s extensive public programming aims to preserve, celebrate, and interpret traditional Scandanavian cultural celebrations—like the Midsommar maypole, the candlelit procession of Lucia, and the comforts of a winter pea soup supper—while also expanding to newer opportunities like Spring Ting, SmörgåsBeer, and the popular extrABBAganza! ABBA Dance Party.
ASHM also teams with libraries on the national “Collaborative Summer Library Reading” initiative, and through community outreach efforts like “My First Museum” it aims to put the concept of cultural exploration into young minds, to help them grow into more robust adults.
Exhibitions at ASHM are often paired with additional programs to foster direct personal experience. The New Nordic Cuisine exhibition, for example, also hosted an elaborate dinner of seasonally inspired Nordic cuisine, and the ecological message of the paintings and photos in Nordic Changes was reinforced by an “Upcycled Crafts” fair and panel discussions on climate change and sustainability.
The American Swedish Heritage Museum is more than just a beautiful building filled with beutiful art and artifacts—it is a place alive with opportunities for celebration, experience, conversation, and learning that go far beyond the heritage of a few northern European countries. It is a place that welcomes all people to come explore “cultural identity” while fostering a community dedicated to preserving and interpreting material culture.