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    Feb 21, 2012

American Swedish Institute to Unveil New Building

Saturday, June 30 will be the official grand opening for Minneapolis’ newest landmark, the Carl and Leslie Nelson Cultural Center. The opening of the ASI’s long-anticipated addition positions the museum squarely as a significant cultural center for the region, a place to experience the remarkable—and unexpected—in Nordic arts, music and culture.

All are welcome to celebrate the opening of the 34,000 square foot Nelson Cultural Center at an all-day festival, Saturday, June 30. The party will feature the first public looks at the new building and outdoor spaces, special international musical guests, craft demonstrations, family activities, an exhibit by world-renowned tapestry artist Helena Hernmarck, food and beverages — and several really fantastic surprises. 

The Nelson Cultural Center’s innovative design and handcrafted, Swedish-inspired detailing embrace Nordic values—including respect for nature and quality materials, as well as for the environment, through energy conservation and sustainable building practices. Designed to achieve the United States Green Building Council’s LEED Gold rating, the center features a sloping green roof and a geothermal well field for heating and cooling.

The Nelson Cultural Center connects old and new worlds with the American Swedish Institute’s historic castle-like 1908 Turnblad Mansion, increasing space for artistic, cultural, and community programming in the city; as well as allowing for expansion of contemporary programs such as new immigrant experiences. The addition to the ASI is designed to establish a more accessible, welcoming presence in the Phillips West neighborhood of Minneapolis.

“Minneapolis now has a new landmark building—linking with the American Swedish Institute’s iconic Turnblad Mansion in a beautiful composition that joins together modern Scandinavia with local history and tradition. Our June 30 grand opening is the culmination of more than ten years of development capped by a year-long construction effort,” said Bruce Karstadt, Honorary Consul General of Sweden and ASI’s President and CEO. “We believe this is a pivotal moment that transforms ASI’s community role. We now have ample facilities that both serve our long-standing audience, and open our gathering spaces as a resource for the entire community and our neighborhood.”

The new construction is located on Park Avenue, to the south of the Turnblad Mansion, and is connected by a courtyard between the buildings. The center’s slate exterior is designed to echo the Mansion’s roof and complement the light limestone of the structure. From the interior entrance of the Nelson Cultural Center, two-story windows frame views of the Mansion. The project also includes extensive exterior additions: a large plaza area for festivals and neighborhood gatherings, increased parking and other major landscaping improvements.

HGA Architects and Engineers, Minneapolis, designed the Nelson Cultural Center and surrounding landscaping. The Tegra Group, Minneapolis, provided project management expertise; and Adolfson & Peterson Construction, Minneapolis, built the facility.

Other features of the Nelson Cultural Center include:

  • Glass-enclosed reception atrium

  • New museum shop space

  • Expanded café

  • Flexible event space seating of 325 for a lecture or concert; 225 for dinner 

  • New galleries for traveling and local exhibits

  • Large studio and crafts workshop

  • Expanded spaces for meetings, events and community gatherings

The Nelson Cultural Center also includes an educational partnership with Gustavus Adolphus College, located in St. Peter, Minn. The College has an office suite in the Center giving Gustavus a presence in the Twin Cities area for outreach to alumni and prospective students, and for educational programming.

Renovations to the 1908 Turnblad Mansion, which added a community hall, library, classrooms and a new elevator-stairway circulation tower, were completed in November 2011.

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