Every year on my birthday I like to do something different. So this year my husband, George, son, Nathan, daughter-in-law to be, Kelly and I went to the American Swedish Institute. For those of you who haven't been there it is a historic house and museum in Minneapolis.
First, we had lunch at the FIKA cafe featuring New Nordic Cuisine, which is a blend of foods I would never think of but was really very tasty. You can have a glass of wine or beer with your lunch which is a lovely start to a tour.
We started at the museum with a tour of August Strindberg's self photography. A man obsessed by his own image, it seems he thought he could "read" intentions and truths or some such thing. A deeply misogynistic man, his plays and life were filled with controversy. The photos did seem to offer some insight but as we were all giggling, I'm not totally sure it was the insight he was intending.
Next we were allowed to tour the Turnblad Mansion. Unlike the James J. Hill house you are allowed to wander on your own through the rooms. From the eleven remarkable tile fireplaces to the carved oak interiors you will be amazed by the beautiful artistry of the time period--even the thermometer was gorgeous.
We enjoyed not being rushed or escorted through the rooms and were able to just find our way up stairways and along hallways.
Who wouldn't enjoy going from room to room as you imagined yourself in another time, sweeping down the stairs in a long skirt or going about doing your housework up and down those stairs with trays.
Or my favorite, nestled up on the top floor with a book in a private nook. The house doesn't have much of the original furniture besides the massive dining table, but the rooms, filled or not, are still a study in luxury that is unrivaled in today's homes.
During it's heyday, this mansion was one of forty that stood on this street, but now it's one of the last still standing. It's definitely a piece of history that is worth preserving and visiting as a reminder of the craftsmanship and hardship(just look at that kitchen) of a bygone era. You don't need to be Swedish to enjoy this outing and perhaps you'll run into their ghost.