Skip to content

Swedish American Museum renovated over past year

Renovations made to the Swedish American Museum included a “labor-intensive” process. (Submitted)

The staff at the Swedish American Museum and Historical Society in Swedesburg didn’t rest while the museum was closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. They updated the museum with renovations

Renovations made to historical buildings included rehabilitating windows and wood finishes, ensuring they will endure for many generations to come.

“The building, even though it was sound, it had deteriorated in places,” said Ceanne Alvine, grant writer and former volunteer for the Swedish American Museum. “There’s a lot of the external wood that had started to rot, partly due to age and partly due to maybe some previous repairs that were not done in a proper fashion. As a part of trying to preserve a historical complex, we sought from the state’s historical society for a major part of the funding.”

This funding allowed the museum to hire a contractor to assist with renovations, which was a “labor-intensive” process, due to the lack of use of power tools on historical buildings.

Rehabilitation of the wood is a process that involves hand scraping the paint off the buildings and applying linseed oil and turpentine before painting them again.

Protective film that was placed on windows before this renovation project had damaged the panes, harming collections inside it was meant to protect. Wood on the window panes were reconditioned or replaced.

Preserving the buildings, rather than updating them was one of the goals of the museum, as two of the buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Renovation processes were done in accordance with the National Park Service and their regulations on historical buildings.

“The key part is we’ll have the contractor available,” Alvine said. “He’s going to be doing some hands-on and working on the window sashes of the historic buildings Saturday, and he’ll be available to talk about the process and be able to answer questions those interested in historical preservation might have.”

The Swedish American Museum is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Celebrations will take place in 2022 after being postponed due to renovations and COVID-19.

Funding from the Scandinavian Council will allow the museum to host a celebration.

“We want to be open far into the future,” Alvine said. “These buildings have served the community for five generations and we hope they will be there for the next five generations.”

Window panes previously installed had deteriorated, meaning the wood had to be reconditioned in order to help protect collections inside. (Submitted)
Window panes were replaced as part of the renovations done at the Swedish American Museum in Swedesburg. (Submitted)