Notes from Curator

If you are a member of the Museum, you will receive our newsletter Flaggan. We have a column in the newsletter called Curators Corner. Below please find articles from recent issues of Flaggan.

Sparkling New Donations

Autumn and winter of 2015 saw many new and fabulous additions to the permanent collection of the Swedish American Museum. Our generous community donated domestic items, archival material, textiles and many other items to help us tell the story of Swedes in North America.

CC_3One donation, given in October 2015 by Diane and David Manthey, is a collection of Swedish-made crystal, which includes several bowls, vases, goblets and art pieces. Glass has a significant history in Sweden. From the infancy of glass production in Sweden in the 16th century—when King Gustav Vasa brought glassmakers to Stockholm from abroad—until the 19th century, glass products remained luxury items. Each piece was individually crafted and blown by artisans while large numbers of workers kept smelting ovens hot, assisted blowers, cleaned molds and packed finished products.

Sweden was well positioned to excel in glass production as it has vast forests and other raw materials such as sand required to produce on a large scale. In the 19th century, the southern region of Småland was often referred to as the “Kingdom of Crystal” due to its large number of glassworks—far more than any other area of Sweden. The late 19th and early 20th century introduced many technical innovations to Sweden’s glass industry that made glass products cheaper to produce and therefore more available to the middle and lower classes.

In the early 20th century, Sweden’s glassworks began to employ more domestic glass blowers and artisans than foreign and by the 1925 Paris Exposition, Sweden’s glass design had taken on a unique character that set it apart from other countries on the world stage. Today, Swedish glass products, both art glass and practical items, are world-renowned for their design and quality.

If you are interested in learning more about contemporary Swedish art glass make sure to visit the Museum during summer of 2016 when we will be hosting an exhibition of contemporary art glass from Swedish glassworks, Målerås!

IMLS Awards Collections Grant to the Museum

imls logoIn September of 2015, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded a Museums For America grant to the Swedish American Museum to support the purchase and installation of a high density shelving system for our collections storage area. Museums For America supports a museum’s ability to serve its public through several targeted programs. Our award is funded through the Collections Stewardship initiative.

The new shelving that we purchase will be a set of movable carriages along a floor track that compact together, only opening one aisle at a time–-effectively eliminating the wasted floor space between shelving units. Installation of this system along the north wall of our collection storage area will increase our on-site storage capacity allowing for the creation of additional storage and work spaces, and improving current storage conditions for our artifacts. The improved conditions translate to better preservation of our artifacts, easier access to artifacts in storage, and an increased ability to rotate artifacts into and out of exhibit spaces.

This new storage system is the beginning of a larger plan for the Museum to redesign exhibit spaces and improve storage conditions and access to the Museum’s collection of historical artifacts. Watch the Museum’s website and social media pages for updates on the installation of this new storage shelving!

Veronica Robinson, Curator



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