Holiday decorations at the castle-like American Swedish Institute are always a traditional treat with gaily ornamented trees, sparkling lights and greenery swagging the balustrades and fireplace in the two-story entrance hall. Throughout the mansion, tables are set in styles typical of each of the five Nordic countries -- Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland. This year the decorations include traditional and contemporary handicrafts from each nation.
The Swedish dining room, above, features the same table settings as used at the Nobel Dinner, including specially designed linen from Klassbol, crystal from Orrefors, a dinner service designed by Rorstrand and cutlery from Gense. All the firms are Swedish, of course. The alcove at right showcases a traditional holiday costume and a contemporary rug.
The Norwegian display emphasizes rosemaling, a traditional style of flower painting, and acanthus carving, bas relief leaf designs cut into wooden boxes and other containers. Judy Kjenstad, who decorated the exterior of Ingebretsen's Norwegian deli and gift shop on Lake St., did the rosemaling. Norwegian-born Hans Sandom did the acanthus carving.
Danish decorations emphasize Danish Modern designs from the 1930s and '40s including the popular blue Chistmas plates from Bing and Grundal. Iceland's room includes a handicraft display as does the Finnish room where traditional birchbark weaving is contrasted with colorful contemprary fabrics from Marimeko. Local jewelry designer Tia Keoboungphang of Silvercocoon design is showing contemporary earrings, necklaces and other ornaments made of wood, acrylic and felt. Watch for possible architectural influences as her father is famed Minnesota architect David Salmela.
Holiday decorations are on view through Jan. 8. Extended holiday hours: noon - 5 p.m. Sun. - Tues., Thurs, Fri.; noon - 8 p.m. Wednesdays; 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sat. Closed Dec. 24, 25 and Jan. 1, 2. Admission $6, adults. American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Av., Minneapolis. 612-870-3342 or www.americanswedishinst.org)