Skip to main content

You are here

  • migration identity belonging
    Jan 04, 2017

Where the Children Sleep Launches ASI's 2017 Migration, Identity and Belonging Programming

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Where the Children Sleep, an exhibition of haunting photographs of refugee children by award-winning Swedish photojournalist Magnus Wennman, is the featured installation on view January 21 – March 5, 2017, at the American Swedish Institute. The ASI’s 2017 suite of programming is inspired by a theme of Migration, Identity and Belonging, reflecting our founding by Swedish immigrants and a mission to be a gathering place for all people to share experiences around themes of culture, migration, the environment and the arts.  On January 20, the ASI’s “First Look” Preview Party offers an advance chance to tour the exhibitions and take part in books signings and a panel discussion. The ASI is located at 2600 Park Avenue, Minneapolis.  For more details, visit or call 612-871-4907.

Where the Children Sleep is a collection of photographs by the internationally acclaimed Magnus Wennman, who earned two World Press Photo Awards and was named Sweden’s Photographer of the Year four times.  During his work,  Wennman encountered refugees in numerous camps in the Middle East and on their journeys through Europe. His images and stories depict Syrian children who were forced out of their homes by the ongoing war, losing everything.  This exhibition is being presented in collaboration with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

Other related exhibitions opening January 21include Swede Hollow, a display based on Ola Larsmo's best-selling Swedish novel that imagines immigrant life at this St. Paul site. The Stories They Told animates the narrative of flat plane figure wood carving, and Green Card Voices shares contemporary Nordic immigrant stories. Cows Can Dream, our Family Gallery exhibition inspired by Sam the cow in Maria Bajt and Jason Diakité's children's book, encourages creativity and discovery.  

Bruce Karstadt,  ASI President/CEO, commented, “As we enter 2017 in a world of changing political and social conditions, I wish to reaffirm the vision that inspires the American Swedish Institute today and historically, which is to be a gathering place for all people to connect their pasts to a shared future and to understand their heritage in relationship to others.  The founders of our museum came to this country as Swedish immigrants.  Nearly every person I know has an immigrant story as part of their family narrative.  Through exhibitions and programs linked to our 2017 theme of Migration, Identity and Belonging, we provide a place for conversations and dialogue which fuse our past with today’s local and global context.”

Exhibition Preview Party

First Look: Migration, Identity and Belonging

Friday, Jan. 20, 7 – 10 p.m.

Get a “First Look” at the new ASI exhibitions that explore ASI’s 2017 theme of Migration, Identity and Belonging, aiding in ASI’s aspiration to build bridges across cultures, create empathy and understanding.  Opening to the public on January 21 are Where the Children Sleep, Swede Hollow, The Stories They Told, Green Card Voices and Cows Can Dream, our Family Gallery exhibition. The First Look preview evening is a chance to explore what’s on display through guided tours, book signings and a special panel discussion about ‘undertold stories,’ moderated by PBS’s Fred de Sam Lazaro. Panelists include authors Ola Larsmo and Kau Kalia Yang, Tea Rozman-Clark from Green Card Voices and Larry Yungk from UNHCR.

Specialty cocktails and curated appetizers by the award-winning FIKA Café are available for purchase.

$15 ASI members / $20 non-members.

2017 Exhibitions  - Migration, Identity and Belonging

Featured Exhibition

Where the Children Sleep (January 21 – March 5, 2017)

This exhibition features 22 haunting photographs and stories of refugee children in the Middle East and Europe as they flee the conflict in Syria.  Because of the war, 2.3 million children have lost their homes and family and left everything behind.  A few offered to show Sweden’s award-winning photojournalist Magnus Wennman where they sleep now, when everything that once was, no longer exists.  Wennman has met refugees in numerous refugee camps and on their journeys through Europe.  Presented in partnership with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

Swede Hollow (January 21 – March 5, 2017)

Informed by Ola Larsmo's book Swede Hollow, an historical novel, this exhibition will introduce a fictitious motley group of Swedish immigrants who lived in St. Paul's Swede Hollow in the winter of 1897. Original text from the book, translated to English for the first time, will be accompanied by historic photographs and a selection of objects from ASI’s collections.

Green Card Voices (January 21 – March 5, 2017)

Through a collaboration with Green Card Voices, a Minneapolis-based non-profit organization,  ASI uses video storytelling to present seven experiences of contemporary immigrants from the Nordic countries who continue to play a vital role in our nation’s society.

The Stories They Told (January 21 – March 5)

Flat plane wood carving is a Nordic folk art embedded with social and cultural narratives. This

exhibition presents recognized practitioners including Emil Janel,  Axel Petersson (Döderhultarn), Herman Rosell and Oscar Sjogren.  By matching objects with illustrated animation by Adam Loomis, the carved figurines come to life, exploring the truths of the immigrant experience.

ASI Family Gallery: Cows Can Dream (January 21 – October 29)

ASI’s Family Gallery becomes an immersive play environment inspired by Cows Can Dream, a children's book with text by Jason Diakité (aka Swedish rap star Timbuktu) and illustrations by Maria Bajt. Sam is a cow who dreams and wanders through Sweden's Wanås Konst sculpture park. The book and exhibition are an experiment in words and images encouraging discovery of what is art and how we all are creative. Buy the book at the ASI Museum Store and bring Sam's adventures home.

Related activities will continue throughout the exhibitions. For more information, visit or call 612-871-4907.

Fika Footprints Campaign

Please join us and our partners, FIKA café, the ASI Museum Store and Tiny Footprints Coffee, as part of the Fika Footprints campaign to support the UN Refugee Agency’s refugee relief efforts to help and protect refugees and people displaced by violence, conflict and persecution. A portion of all coffee sales sold during the run of Where The Children Sleep exhibition will go to USA for UNHCR. For more information, visit

In Addition and Upcoming

Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden Florilegium (January 14 – February 26)

This collection of botanical drawings and paintings of plants focuses on the growing season of a particular plant to capture its integrity; a drawing can take one or two years to complete.

The Weather Diaries (March 24 – July 2)

Through striking photographs and one-of-a-kind art installations, The Weather Diaries explores the roots of West Nordic fashion in Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, probing a cultural identity that runs centuries deep and shared by the inescapable impact of nature. On May 9, as part of the “Where Words End” Nordic-focused festival hosted by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the ASI is the site for Liquid Music’s performance featuring Iceland’s Bedroom Community and Swedish vocalist Mariam Wallentin.

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 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.  The Wall Street Journal called ASI “[a] model of how a small institution can draw visitors through exciting programming.” For tickets, visit or call 612-871-4907.

ASI MUSEUM HOURS:  Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Wednesday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, Noon–5 p.m.; closed Monday.

Museum Admission: $10 adults, $7 ages 62 +, $5  ages 6–18 and full-time students with ID. Free for ASI members and kids ages 5 and under.                             

FIKA, ASI’s award winning café, is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday:  8:30 a.m. –5 p.m.; Wednesday, 8:30 a.m.–8 p.m.  Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

The ASI MUSEUM STORE is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 10 a.m. –5 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m. –8 p.m.  Sunday,  Noon-5 p.m.


Thanks to Minnesota Public Radio 91.1 KNOW News, the exclusive radio sponsor of Where the Children Sleep and the First Look Preview Party


The Where the Children Sleep exhibition project is presented by the American Swedish Institute in collaboration with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and Fotografiska, the Swedish Museum of Photography; with additional support from the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies,  the Carlson Family Foundation, Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation,  Delta Air Lines and ASI contributing members and donors. 

share this