This Saturday, June 30, the Nelson Cultural Center will open in Minneapolis. The cultural center is an extension of the American Swedish Institute (ASI), which first opened in 1929 in the historic Turnblad mansion. Today, we were able to tour both the historic mansion and the new cultural center and learn more about the new additions.
Last fall, the ASI debuted its own renovations, which added accessibility to the 104-year-old, 33-room building. The renovations also added classrooms and community meeting spaces, and opened up spaces previously used for the cafe, shop and storage. More of the historic rooms can now be restored and finally become open to the public.
The adjacent Nelson Cultural Center, a 34,000-square-foot, two-story addition, allows the ASI to expand on its programming and provides new space for the cafe and gift shop. The cultural center includes exhibit space and event space, a courtyard and offices. The Folke Bernadotte Conference Room on the main level has a capacity of 66 people. The second level's Larson Hall has a capacity of 300 with plenty of nearby pre-function space. The courtyard and terrace are also available for events. The courtyard's first event was Northern Spark and held a crowd of 500. The Fika Cafe (pronounced fee-ka), earned its name from Swedish slang for coffee (FYI: Fika caters).
The Nelson Cultural Center, designed by HGA Architects and Engineers, was created with Swedish design in mind. Many details call to mind Swedish style, from the designer furniture in the conference room and the single Guardian Tree in the courtyard to the leather handrails on the stairs and the nautical detail on ceiling of Larson Hall (reminiscent of Stockholm's City Hall). The modern building's design flows directly into the historic mansion, even using the same slate tile as the ASI's roof. The cultural center also includes large windows that frame views of the mansions impressive turrets and historic details. A covered link connects the two buildings. The Nelson Cultural Center was designed to be green. The building features green roofs, natural materials and many other environmentally friendly details, which they hope will help it earn LEED Gold certification.
The grand opening for the Nelson Cultural Center will include many activities, such as an ABBA sing-along, the opening of the Helena Hernmarck tapestry exhibit (June 30-Oct. 14), live music, glass blowing and woodcarving demonstrations, a jumpy castle, story time and more. Swedish Ambassador H.E. Jonas Hafstrom, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and others will be on hand to open the cultural center. The celebration runs from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. on June 30.
-- Ellie M. Bayrd
[Photos by Ellie M. Bayrd]