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Musical fun at the American Swedish Institute


That’s the name of the latest exhibit at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. You might have a few questions:

1. So what? I’m not Swedish.

2. Do I even know any Swedish music?

3. If it’s only three minutes or less, is it really worth it?


We recently visited and highly recommend it. Here are our answers!

Turnblad mansion

The breakfast room at the American Swedish Institute.

  1. So what? The American Swedish Institute is a place for all of us to learn about and celebrate arts, crafts, and immigrant culture of the past and the present. It is definitely NOT just for people with Scandinavian ancestry. If you have not visited, prepare to be impressed. It is a sumptuous mansion from 1908 and a modern, LEED-certified new cultural center built in 2010, featuring an award-winning café and restaurant. There are fun activities for people of all ages and abilities.

Electric guitar

Guests can play a Hagström electric guitar!

  1. Swedish music? It’s not just ABBA and hymnals! You’ll learn that you probably know a lot more Swedish music than you think. For example, pop superstars like Katy Perry and Taylor Swift head to Sweden to work with the world’s top composers and producers. And did you know that Swedes made the Hagström electric guitar, the instrument of choice for rock legends like Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie?

Photo of Gothenburg Combo

The Gothenburg Combo entertains, on video, throughout the mansion.

  1. Three minutes or less? You’ll be entertained for much longer than three minutes! Here’s the deal: the Gothenburg Combo – two acoustic guitar players – made ten three-minute videos, playing music from many eras. These videos are scattered throughout the rooms of the mansion. The music is beautiful and diverse: from a jaunty jig, to a haunting hymn, to a fun version of Britney Spears’ “Hit Me Baby One More Time” (written and produced by Swedes).


The videos are visually striking, but they do not need to be seen to be enjoyed. In each room, musical instruments are on display. In a few instances, you can be hands-on: in the ballroom on the 3rd floor, guests are invited to play a piano. And in a special exhibit about the Hagström guitar, you can play the electric guitar and try your hand at building a guitar!

Photo of piano with sheet music

Guests are welcome to play the piano in the ballroom


Where: The American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55407. See the website for directions.

When: now through October 25, 2015. Days and times are on the website.

How much: Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for ages 62 and above, and $5 for ages 6-18 and full-time students with ID. Free for members and for children 5 and under. 

Have you visited the American Swedish Institute? Tell us what you think in the comments!

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