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  • Jun 01, 2015


The Ultimate Viking invasion is hitting Minneapolis and they’re coming not in boats nor in padded purple and gold – but in instrument cases. The American Swedish Institute (ASI)’s latest exhibition pays homage to the iconic Hagstrom line of guitar – whose amped glittery guitars including the Viking, Super Swede, and Partner, were a favorite of musical legends Elvis Presley, David Bowie and many more.  Amp Up! The Hagstrom Guitar Sensation runs June 20 – October 25, 2015.


In the 1930s, Albin Hagström built a musical empire in the tranquil village of Alvaden, Sweden by constructing and selling world-class accordions. When the squeezebox started going out of style, the Hagström company looked to the American music industry for inspiration. They found the electric guitar.

Hagström created a glittery guitar that wailed, buzzed, and echoed among the trees of the region. As rock ‘n’ roll swept the globe, famous musicians flashed Hagström guitars, with names like Viking and Super Swede, and a new Swedish icon was born.

Hagström guitars popularity stemmed from their solid design, big sound and reasonable price point.    The guitar necks were also stronger than most others, thanks to a patented design inspired by a Saab fighter jet. These necks were very slim, allowing musicians to play notes quickly.

Between 1958 and 1983, Hagström built about 130,000 guitars, far fewer than American companies Fender and Gibson. The low production rate makes Hagström guitars very collectible today.



Museum visitors are encouraged to step up to the stage in the exhibit and strum or rock out on a Hagstrom guitar of their choosing.  Shoot your own music video and share to social media using #ampupASI.


Amp Up! The Hagstrom Guitar Sensation is an interactive self-guided exhibition open six days a week. To strike a deeper chord, make sure to take a guided tour. Guided public exhibit tours are offered every Friday at 1:30 p.m. (included with museum admission). To book a private group tour (ideal for groups of 8 or more), call (612) 871-4907.


June 8 – August 8

As an organization positioned to connect globally, yet engage locally, the American Swedish Institute’s Artist-in-Residence program encourages practicing artists to create new work from ASI’s collections or exhibition themes. 

This summer, jazz vocalist Connie Evingson is ASI’s Artist-in-Residence in conjunction with Amp Up! The Hagstrom Sensation guitar exhibit. Connie will mine ASI's archives and collaborate with a guitarist to create an original song based on her findings. Catch Connie composing “in studio” in the Turnblad Mansion’s music room during select museum hours. Learn about the art of music-making, and follow Connie’s creative process from initial inspiration to finished composition. Evingson’s residency concludes with a concert on Wednesday, August 8 in the historic Turnblad Mansion Ballroom at which she debuts her new original work. 

Connie Evingson is known for taking divergent musical paths. Her recorded catalog of acclaimed CD's ranging from jazz and Broadway standards to the music of Peggy Lee, the Beatles, Django Reinhardt, Dave Frishberg, Norman Gimbel and more reflects an adventurous spirit that knows no boundaries. A Twin Cities resident, Connie appears regularly at the nationally renowned Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis, is the featured artist of the Jazz at the Jungle concert series at the Jungle Theater (also in Minneapolis) and tours worldwide, with appearances at concert halls, theaters and festivals in the U.S., Europe and Japan. She has been a guest artist with Jazz at Lincoln Center, Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, the Minnesota Orchestra and Toronto Symphony conducted by Doc Severinsen, the JazzMN Orchestra and VocalEssence, among others. Her nine CD's on Minnehaha Music have all charted in the Top 50 in the U.S. and Canada and can be heard on radio stations around the world. All the Cats Join In, her third CD in the "jazz manouche" style popularized by Django Reinhardt, was released in the fall of 2013.

ASI Artist-In-Residence Connie Evingson In-Gallery Sessions:

Saturday, June 20 (ASI Midsommar Celebration) – 3-4 p.m.

Sunday, June 28 –1-3 p.m.

Wednesday, July 1 – 6-8 p.m.

Saturday, July 11 –1-3 p.m.

Wednesday, July 15 – 6-8 p.m.


In celebration of Amp Up!, ASI is putting Hagstrom in the hands of our best hometown music heroes in an intimate music series in the historic Turnblad Mansion Ballroom.  The second Wednesday of each month (July-October), selected performers will pick-up the Hagström instrument of their choice to reference or play during their performance. Performances limited to 75 seats. 

For tickets and showtimes, visit

Wednesday, July 8 —Suzie

Wednesday, August 12 — Connie Evingson with Sam Miltich

Wednesday, September 9 — Dean Magraw

Wednesday, October 14 – The Musical Offering with Christopher Kachian




Amp Up! is part of ASI’s summer/fall theme of “The Way Music Moves Me” Other exhibitions exploring the thematic include The History of Swedish Music in Three Minutes or Less and Swedes Rock! An ASI Family Gallery Experience. Visit for a complete line-up of culture and craft classes celebrating all things music this summer and fall.

Amp Up! Exhibition Opening and ASI Midsommar Celebration

Saturday, June 20 —10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Welcome summer's favorite tradition at ASI’s 2015 Midsommar Celebration! A family-friendly day full of music, dancing, and much more! Join in traditional Swedish Midsommarstång (Midsummer-pole) raising, singing and dancing at 11:30 a.m., or for singing and dancing at 1:30p.m. and 3:30p.m. Highlights include special guest Swedish jazz artist Mary Nelson, ASI Artist in Residence, Connie Evingson, slöjd (handcraft) demonstrations, flower head-wreath making, face painting, storytelling, outdoor games and music-based nature play activities.  Free for ASI members and kids 5 and under; nonmembers: $10 adults, $5 ages 6–18. Tickets available day of the event.  

From Stompboxes to Kill Switches – Keeping the Music Alive: A Conversation with Eclipse Music's John Justen

Wednesday, July 29 – 6:30 p.m.

The storied history and iconic artists of the Twin Cities’ music scene would not be the same without nostalgic institutions like the Ten O’Clock Scholar, a Dinkytown venue  that launched hundreds of music careers – including Bob Dylan. Wanting to meet the needs of a growing music audience interested in amplified music, Ten O’Clock Scholar’s owner Mike Justen took a similar entrepreneurial approach as Swedish guitar maker, Albin Hagstrom. From the Ten O’Clock Scholar, Justen created Eclipse Concert Systems – a sound and touring company that has evolved into Eclipse Music, now run by his son, John Justen. Based in West St. Paul, Eclipse Music continues to feature amplified equipment today, with a keen interest in small, custom made instruments with a regional twist.

John Justen shares the stage with Minnesota-based pedal makers and sound effects innovators who are continuing to push the sound of the guitar in new directions.   Welcome and open to all levels of familiarity – musicians and non-musicians alike. Included with museum admission. Free for ASI members. Click here to register or call 612-871-4907.

ASI Crayfish Party

Saturday, August 15 doors 6:30 p.m., dinner 7p.m.

Don a party hat and celebrate summer with a festive evening of food, drinks, and singing at ASI’s annual Crayfish Party. Under the lanterns and lights of the ASI Courtyard, experience a traditional Swedish crayfish party, with good breads, strong chesses, salads, Swedish paj (similar to quiche) and, of course, aquavit and unlimited crayfish.  Grab a bib and learn the perfect technique of how to eat crayfish as we sing some silly drinking songs, and enjoy live music by the Jim Kennedy Trio. Skål!  21+ event. $55 ASI members/$65 general public. Includes one shot of aquavit. Cash bar available. Register by August 6.

Cocktails at the Castle: All Strings Attached

September 11, 2015 7-11 p.m.  

ASI’s popular event series honors Hagstrom and its six and twelve string guitars in a pitch-perfect night at the Twin Cities’ only Castles. Tickets on sale in July.  

Pickin’ and Grinnin’: Wooden Guitar Pick Workshop

Saturday, September 12 — 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Celebrate Amp It Up! The Hagström Guitar Sensation by creating your own custom guitar picks! Cut and carve up to four picks, using a variety of hardwoods like maple and oak. With coping saws, carving knives, sandpaper and oil, we’ll create beautiful and playable guitar picks. Bring your guitars and other stringed instruments for a jam session after class! Instructor Michael Seiler; $50 ASI members/$60 general public. $30 materials fee is payable to the instructor. 

A Night of Social Wonder: How Music Moves Me

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Night of Social Wonder asks us to take a closer look at how music influences other places around the globe and across industries.  How does music encourage social bridging and blur the lines of socio-economic inequalities?  What innovations are currently underfoot in the music market and what impact does that have?   How has music transformed the work we do?  Stay tuned to for details.


Amp Up! The Hagstrom Guitar Sensation is developed in collaboration with the Dalarnas Museum (Falun, Sweden).

This exhibition is generously supported by Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, the Anne Ray Charitable Trust, the Swedish Council of America and Eclipse Music. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund, and a grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation Minnesota.  


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