When Kurt Mathiasson, who immigrated from Goteborg, took over Svea in 1972, his goal was to bring back the "Swedishness" of Andersonville. So he started filling every available space in the diner with Swedish artifacts he and his friends had saved over the years. When the collection threatened to overtake the little restaurant, he rented a storefront across the street and the Swedish American Museum was born.
King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden attended the official opening in 1976 and visited again in 1988. In 2001, when the new Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration, Queen Silvia made an official appearance. Bet Kurt didn't think he'd be entertaining royalty when he started showcasing his cultural pride on a wall in the tiny Svea!
Today, the museum has grown to include Swedish American Genealogical Society to help people trace their roots, a children's museum, a permanent exhibit following Swedish immigration to the area plus other rotating exhibits, and a store selling authentic Swedish products. In addition, the museum continues to keep beloved Swedish traditions alive; Midsommarfest is a particular favorite. To top it all off, Swedish language classes, children's programs such as Pancakes with Pippi, and events like the Glogg competition highlight Andersonville's "Swedishness" all year long. Kudos to Kurt!
Cover photo credit: paulkazuma via Instagram.