Swedish American Museum

  • IL

About Us

The Swedish American Museum was founded in 1976 to preserve and disseminate the history of the great contributions of early Swedish immigrants to Chicago. The first Museum site was in a small 1,000-square-foot storefront located in Andersonville. Ten years later, the Museum purchased and moved to a three story building, a former Swedish hardware store, to continue to be the center of Swedish life in Andersonville. In the new 24,000-square-foot building, the first phase of renovation to the building began, in order to facilitate extensive programming and audience development, which were pursued over the next eight years. Which, lead to the second phase of major expansion, completed in 1997 including: a permanent exhibit, gallery space, staff offices, a library, new elevator and other life-safety improvements. Phase three renovation included The Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration, which opened in June 2001.

The Swedish American Museum is an active 32 year old mid-sized museum located in the heart of Andersonville, one of the most concentrated areas of Swedish culture in the United States, whose Swedish roots date back to the nineteenth century. The Museum serves 1,900 dues-paying members, and in 2007, had 43,000 visitors. The Museum’s audience is broad-based in age (from toddlers to seniors), gender, residence (from foreign tourists to near neighbors), and cultural origin. The demographics served by The Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration are predominantly low income (91.6% by CPS statistics), and almost entirely minority (91.7%). Almost a quarter of the Andersonville population is Hispanic, and thus, from an immigrant background.

The Swedish American Museum is committed to preserving Swedish heritage, educating all generations and ethnic groups in Swedish language, art, culture, and traditions and celebrating Sweden’s past, present, and future. Additionally, the Museum serves as a unifying force for all Scandinavian groups in the greater Chicago, Illinois area.

The nation’s first Children’s Museum of Immigration was opened by the Swedish American Museum in June 2001. The number of school tours The Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration gets has continued to grow each year since the 2001 opening, demonstrating sustainability. In 2007, school groups brought in 4,120 children and 124 school tours to the Museum, which demonstrates a 34% increase since 2005.