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  • Jun 11, 2012

American Swedish Institute to Host Grand Öpening Celebration June 30

MINNEAPOLIS — June 11, 2012 — The American Swedish Institute is preparing for its much-anticipated Grand Öpening celebration on June 30 — the first public opportunity to view Minneapolis’ newest landmark, ASI’s 34,000 square fooot Carl and Leslie Nelson Cultural Center addition. The opening of the Nelson Cultural Center positions the museum squarely as a significant cultural center for the region — a gathering place to experience the unexpected in Nordic arts, music, cuisine, craft and culture.

Everyone is invited to the free festivities at ASI on Saturday, June 30, from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. The Turnblad Mansion, Nelson Cultural Center and newly landscaped grounds will be the backdrop for activities including ABBA impersonators and an ABBA sing-along; the opening of an exhibit by world-renowned tapestry artist Helena Hernmarck; glass blowing, woodcarving and felting demonstrations; and remarks by luminaries including Swedish Ambassador to the United States H.E. Jonas Hafström, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Dr. Ford Bell, President and CEO of the American Association of Museums, and Bruce Karstadt, ASI President and CEO, and the Honorary Consul General of Sweden in Minneapolis.

Throughout the day visitors will enjoy music and dance performances, culminating with a 7 p.m. concert by Nordic Faroe Islands musical guests Yggdrasil, a genre-bending free jazz to classical ensemble; and Eivør Duo, an up-and-coming modern indie folk rock group who will be featured in Kennedy Center’s Nordic Cool series in 2013.

The revelry will also include a jumpy castle; a dress-up photo booth; story times and face-painting; as well as educational seminars on green building techniques used in the new Nelson Cultural Center. Nordic-inspired and other foods, sweets, and locally sourced beverages will also be available.

“We are thrilled to be opening our new front door to the neighborhood and the city after ten years of planning and building,” said Bruce Karstadt, ASI’s President and CEO and Honorary Consul General of Sweden in Minneapolis. “With this expansion we are officially an even more remarkable place to experience the unexpected in Nordic arts, music and culture.”

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 system for heating and cooling.

Features of the new Nelson Cultural Center include FIKA, a new cafe featuring quick bites and sit-down Nordic inspired cuisine, coffee and pastries; new museum shop space; a flexible event space seating 300 for a lecture or concert, or 225 for dinner; a glass-enclosed reception commons; new galleries for traveling and ASI-originated exhibits; a large studio and crafts workshop; and expanded spaces for meetings, events and community gatherings.

On Saturday, Oct. 6, Their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden will visit the American Swedish Institute to formally dedicate the Nelson Cultural Center.

The new construction is located on Park Avenue, south of the Turnblad Mansion, and is connected by a link and new elevator/stairway circulation tower, with 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, improved parking and other major landscaping upgrades. Renovations to the lower level of the Turnblad Mansion and connected 1983 addition, were completed in 2011.

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.

The Center also includes office space for Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn. The College’s office suite in the Center will give Gustavus a presence in the Twin Cities area for outreach to alumni and prospective students, and for educational programming.

The June 30 ASI Grand Öpening celebration is planned to be a zero-waste event, with the help of local non-profit Eureka Recycling, whose mission is to demonstrate that waste is preventable. Other event sponsors include Wells Fargo, Lucid Brewing, Vinocopia, Thousand Hills Cattle Company, and the Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council.

The American Swedish Institute (ASI) is a vibrant arts and cultural organization, museum, and historic home located at 2600 Park Avenue near downtown Minneapolis. ASI attracts more than 65,000 people each year for tours of the landmark 1908 Turnblad Mansion, exhibits, classes and events that connect the community to contemporary Nordic culture and cultural heritage. Founded in 1929 by Swedish immigrant newspaper publisher Swan J. Turnblad, ASI serves as a gathering place for people to share stories and experiences around universal themes of tradition, migration, craft and the arts, all informed by enduring ties to Sweden. For more information, including museum and restaurant hours, visit


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