Step into the life of our Swedish ancestors and replicate the voyage that brought them to America. At Brunk’s Children’s Museum in Chicago, American born kids become Swedish emigrants through an interactive exhibit, and parents have an opportunity to become children again.

The Swedish American Museum invited young and old to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration. The playful exhibit replicates a traditional Swedish "stuga" farmhouse, an immigrant steamship and at the journeys' end, an American log cabin attracted a large audience.

Kids were able to play in the children’s museum under supervision of volunteers, while their parents enjoyed entertainment and dinner in the main gallery.

“I want to buy a ticket to America!” yelled an excited child wearing a traditional ‘Emil’ cap, before he turned over his wrinkled passport, took his suitcase and ran after his fellow emigrants to catch the steamship to America.
Volunteer Greg Ott had the impossible mission of controlling the young and lively "Swedish emigrants."
“It’s great and a lot of fun,” said Ott. “I wish my parents brought me here when I was young.”

Gavin Torrisi, a parent of two children and a member of the Swedish American Museum, loves the authentic and intimate feeling the museum brings to Andersonville.
“This place is a jewel in the neighborhood,” said Torrisi. “The kids can spend hours here.”
Docent Michelle Paradise believes families with children are attracted to the exhibit because of its hands-on, interactive approach.
“It’s so welcoming, and many times people don’t realize that it actually is a museum,” she said.
Swedish or not, everyone seemed to enjoy playing and learning about the life of Swedish emigrants.

“We are not Swedish, but we adapted Sweden as a second culture,” said parent Martha Hoffman, who attended with her 4-year-old daughter, Sydney.
“They learn about Scandinavian culture through playing in the museum,” said James Cullen, father of three.
Ending the celebrations, all families gathered in the main gallery to enjoy birthday cake and dance performance from Gus Giordano Dance School.

By Erik Kinnhammar

For more info on the museum, see Swedish American Museum

The Swedish American Museum in Chicago

First and founding Executive Director, Kerstin Lane: Creator, founder, visionary