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Saturday, December 12, 2015


The annual holiday visit that my friend Cynthia and I make to the American Swedish Institute is something we look forward to all year long.  As many of you know, I love visiting the ASI, especially the Turnblad “Castle,” and attend a number of their events throughout the year. That being said, I think my favorite time to visit is during December, when the castle can be seen in all of its holiday glory.

This year's theme was, A Nordic Christmas: Myths, Legends, and Fairytales.

Not Quite Santa Lucia.

The Myths, Legends, and Fairytales theme began in the gift shop as you entered.

The castle, located on Park Avenue in Minneapolis, was built by Swan and Christina Turnblad in the early 1900’s. Architects Christopher Boehme and Victor Cordella were contracted in 1903 to design the beautiful Chateau styled mansion, and the family moved in 1908. Unfortunately, the family only lived there for twenty years, before moving out in 1929 following Christina’s death.  The mansion was then donated as a museum to house the newly formed American Swedish Institute, which was established by Turnblad to preserve Swedish customs and culture.   

The beautiful stained glass window on the staircase.

Music and entertainment happened throughout the day.

The Tomte.

Tomte Tales.

The kitchen was ready for Holiday baking.

Today, visitors are treated to a number exhibits and events, highlighting Swedish heritage and culture, and this holds true during the holidays as well. At this time of year, each of the rooms in the mansion is decorated to represent Christmas in a different Scandinavian country, and the end result is spectacular.

Swan Turnblad.

Christina Turnblad.

The Beautiful Matryoshka dolls in the Russian room.

The "Faberge" tree.

One of the beautiful chandeliers.

In addition to the Scandinavian themed rooms, they have also started a tradition of decorating one of the rooms to represent a “guest country.” This year’s guest country is Russia, and the room was done in collaboration with The Museum of Russian Art. The Russian room brought back so many memories for me.  Many years ago, while I was in college, my college choir went on tour to Poland and Russia (which was still the Soviet Union at that time).  The trip lasted from December 27 to January 14, and allowed us to experience some of the holiday traditions of each country. The guest room at the castle reminded me of that trip, with its beautiful decorations, including the lovely Matryoshka nesting dolls.

The Fairy Throne.

The elegant dining room.

The guardian angel carved into the dining room ceiling.

Birch bark ornaments and chain garlands.

The Tomte house.

Inside the Tomte house.

The iconic Turnblad mansion.

My annual holiday visit to the American Swedish Institute is something I look forward to every year.  Its beauty delights and inspires me, and gives me new ideas to try with my own holiday decorating at home. This year’s theme is A Nordic Christmas: Myths, Legends, and Fairytales, and the exhibit runs through January 10. If you’ve never been to the ASI, this is the perfect time to visit for the first time, and if you’re a veteran of the museum, this truly is one of the most beautiful times of the year to experience it again.

***Tell me about your favorite visit to the American Swedish Institute.

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