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Wednesday, May 25, 2016


As you may have gathered, the American Swedish Institute is one of my favorite venues in Minneapolis. With its beautiful French Chateauesque mansion, contemporary visitor’s center, and large grounds, the ASI is not your typical cultural center. 

The sell out crowd of 2000 arrived early.


Like many affluent, turn of the century folks did, newspaperman Swan Turnblad and his wife Christina, built an impressive mansion to showcase their wealth and success.

 Bands performed on the front porch throughout the evening.

Inspired by his many trips to Europe, in 1903 Turnblad hired architects Christopher Boehme and Victor Cordella to design this imposing home on six lots they had purchased on the corner of 26th and Park Avenue, in Minneapolis. It took trained artisans, working in stone and wood, roughly five years to complete the expansive mansion.

We were greeted by a Nordic rocking horse as we entered the mansion.

Speaking of horses, it seems I always have to take 
photo of this horse when I visit the ASI.

The Turnblad Family only lived in the home from 1908 until 1929, at which time it was donated to the American Institute for Swedish Art, Literature, and Science – which would eventually become the American Swedish Institute. The ASI hosts numerous events and exhibits throughout the year, but one of my favorites is the bi-annual Cocktails at the Castle series, which happens twice each summer - usually May and September, and often highlights an exhibit at the mansion, as well as the season of the year. 

Some of the watercolor artwork by Lars Lerin on display in the mansion,

We were given the opportunity to create our own watercolor masterpieces.

One of eleven import tile stoves.

Earlier this month, friends and I attended the first Cocktails at the Castle event for 2016.  This event was titled “Light Up The Night,” and celebrated the return of the light to Minnesota. Strategically placed neon light artwork lit up the grounds, while costumed entertainers dazzled us with digital light hoops and whips.

Lights illuminated the mansion . . . 

. . . While neon artwork was scattered throughout the grounds.

Even Selma wasn't immune to the neon lights.

There is usually a scavenger hunt throughout the mansion, and this years participants were awarded neon bracelets, which mirrored the neon artwork on the grounds. Also scattered throughout the mansion, were a large number of beautiful watercolor paintings by artist Lars Lerin, which offered a wonderful dimension to this historic home.

The sky dome showed the lights of constellations.

The ASI’s restaurant, FIKA, provided food and berverages for purchase, while bands entertained us on the front porch of the mansion. There were also several other venders onsite tempting us with their wares.

The crowd stayed . . . 

. . . Long into the night.

As we often do, we ended the night with ice cream from Sebastian Joe's.

The Cocktails at the Castle evenings at the American Swedish Institute are not to be missed, and always sell out in a very short time, as they have become some of the premier summer events in Minneapolis. Barring any changes, the next Cocktails at the Castle evening will be held on September 16, so be watching for more information as the date gets closer, and be sure to get your tickets early. You won’t want to miss it!

***What are some of your favorite summer events?

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