American Swedish Institute celebrates its Grand Opening this weekend
|The American Swedish Institute's new Nelson Cultural Center|
Festivities will include international music and dance performances, the debut of an exhibit by famed textile artist Helena Hernmarck, and appearances by Swedish Ambassador to the United States H.E. Jonas Hafström and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.
|"In Our Nature: The Tapestries of Helena Hernmarck" on display|
The largest scale construction effort in the American Swedish Institute's 83-year history, the new building measures 34,000 square feet and houses a climate-controlled gallery, museum shop, and FIKA. It can also accommodate a variety of events in its public and private meeting areas, which include a conference room, craft workshop, Gustavus Adolphus College office suite, event center (capacity of 300), and outdoor courtyard.
"It's a way to balance the tradition and history of the mansion with the contemporary feel of the cultural center," says Bruce Karstadt, President and CEO.
Although the ground-breaking ceremony was held in April of last year, HGA Architects and Engineers (Minneapolis) was hired in 2008, and traveled to Sweden to prepare for the project.
|Slate for the center was sourced from the same Vermont quarry as the mansion's rooftop|
These influences are apparent in the new structure's clean lines, natural materials, and abundant daylight. But they're also present in less obvious ways.
On track to secure a LEED Gold rating from the United States Green Building Council, the center features a green roof covered by sedum plants, and a complex heating and cooling system of 96 geothermal wells which stretch 250 feet below the surface. "We're willing to invest in it because it's the right thing to do," Karstadt says. "It's emblematic of our values as Minnesotans -- as well as the values of Sweden."
As part of the sustainability initiative, ASI is encouraging visitors to bike or use public transportation, and also setting aside reserved parking spots for high efficiency vehicles. "We want to orient all of our activities -- and all of our thinking -- around being green and caring for the environment."
|ASI's new Green Roof features an open patio|
Although the American Swedish Institute will present a new face to the world, many things will remain the same. ASI will continue to offer tours, exhibits, events, and classes in an effort to connect Minnesotans with Nordic culture -- both past and present -- and create ties with other immigrant communities.
"It should be a welcoming front door," says Karstadt. "And a space that allows us to bring all people together to celebrate heritage."
IF YOU GO:
Nelson Cultural Center Grand Öpening
Saturday, June 30 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
2600 Park Ave., Minneapolis; 612.871.4907
|Turnblad Mansion remains the heart of the American Swedish Institute|