The SWEDISH AMERICAN MUSEUM in Chicago, Illinois

Today my husband, my sister-in-law and I went into Chicago to see the Swedish American Museum. The museum is located on 5211 N. Clark Street in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago. Andersonville was initially a neighborhood heavily populated with Swedes. Times have changed however and there is not a Swede to be seen walking the streets of Andersonville and very little evidence of  Swedish influence today except for the museum and one or two restaurants and  shops. I was worried that I had dragged my family members to see an old storefront where inside a couple of tired old Swedes would be sitting at a folding table passing out pamphlets detailing the Swedish glory that once was (or was it?) and now is long gone. From the outside, the museum did seem fairly simple and unimpressive.

The museum was however well worth the trip. There were three stories. The first floor was dedicated to Swedish glass work and art. The second floor had a lovely display detailing who the typical Swedish immigrant to Chicago was and the reasons why they left Sweden. The museum detailed their journey from their poor home farm across Sweden to Gothenburg where they boarded a ship to Hull, England. In Hull the immigrants took a long train journey to Liverpool where they boarded an even larger ship for the trip across the Atlantic. Landing in the United States at Boston, New York or one of the other harbors they still had a ways to go. They would still experience Ellis Island and additional journeys by train and horse cart depending on the year of immigration. Why they settled in Chicago and the life they lived here in Chicago is shown with lots of pictures and artifacts that give a person a real feel for the times and lives of those long ago immigrants who were our ancestors. On the third floor was an interactive museum for children.

Upon leaving we passed through the gift shop, full of T-shirts, Swedish flags, Swedish Cookbooks and all manner of souvenir doodads. I have plenty of that sort of thing but I was interested to hear they often sponsor guest speakers and have genealogy workshops on a monthly basis.

All in all a trip worth taking and with living in Chicagoland all my life I am almost embarassed to say I only now went. They opened in 1976 and are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year.

5211 N. Clark Street
Chicago, Illinois 60640

check out their website for hours and events↓