Gunn Historical MuseumCurrent Exhibits & Programs | Washington Senior Center Programs | Friends of the Gunn Museum | Gift Shop | Past Exhibits & Events | About the Museum | Adele Worsley Garden | Our Civil War Site | History Resources | Search Museum Catalog | Our YouTube | Flickr Photos | Facebook | Awards
Gunn Historical Museum
5 Wykeham Road
P.O. Box 1273
Washington, CT 06793
Thursday - Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Open Sundays 12:00 - 4:00 p.m. until Jan. 12
Stephen Bartkus, Curator email@example.com
Amie Walston, Curatorial Assistant
All of our programs are free and open to the public unless otherwise stated.
There is no admission charge, but donations are greatly appreciated.
Unidentified Swedish ancestors
of Janice Sjonost Burnham
Exhibits & Programs
Coming to America: Washington's Swedish ImmigrantsThis exhibition shares the little-known story of Swedish immigration to our small New England town. Known for their superior agricultural skills, 1.3 million Swedes emigrated to America during the 19th and 20th centuries, escaping conscription, famine, and poverty. Washington, Connecticut became one of their new homes, where many found employment as laborers and servants on local farms and estates owned by wealthy New Yorkers. Beginning in 1870, over one hundred Swedish families settled in town and built two churches across the street from each other. One, the Salem Covenant Church, is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. Swedes made up 22% of Washington's population in 1910, and many of their descendants still reside in town today.
Artistic director Chris Zaima, designer Sandy Booth, and artist Keith Templeton, along with a team of other volunteers, have created a visual masterpiece. Local history will come alive as visitors step back in time and explore the lives of Washington's Swedish immigrants and their role in the community. Fascinating artifacts and photographs are on display from the Museum's collection, on loan from descendants, as well as local dealers Dawn Hill Antiques and Eleish Van Breems Antiques. The exhibit and associated programs (see below) are funded in part by a grant from the Connecticut Community Foundation, and will be up until January 12, 2014.
Related ProgramsSwedish Dala Horse Craft for Kids | St. Lucia's Day Swedish Fairytale | New Year's Tea Party | St. Knut's Day Exhibit Closing Reception |
Swedish Dala Horse Craft for KidsMeet at the Gunn Junior Library at 1:00 p.m., then we'll take a tour of the Museum's Swedish immigrant exhibit. After seeing all the beautifully decorated Dala Horses on display and learning about their significance, children will decorate a dala horse ornament to take home.
Saturday, November 23 at 1:00 p.m.
A Dala Horse is a traditional carved, painted wooden horse statuette originating in Swedish province Dalarna. In the old days the Dala horse was mostly used as a toy for children; in modern times it has become a symbol of Dalarna, as well as Sweden in general. Several different types of Dala horses are made, with distinguishing features common to the locality of the site where they are produced. The stoutly carved red horses with a harness in white, green, yellow and blue have become much more common and widespread than others.
St. Lucia's Day Swedish Fairytale
Saturday, December 14 at 1:00 p.m.
Snow date: Sunday December 15 at 1:00 p.m.
Carol Skog, local author of Swedish descent, will give a presentation on and sign copies of her new book, Enchantment ─dventyr, H.C.A. and I Understand, in the Wykeham Room of the Library. In her presentation Carol will focus on Swedish Christmas customs and conclude with a mini Lucia. This holiday program is appropriate for all ages. Registration is requested for this free program at 860-868-7756.
Lorraine Bergstrom, of Covenant Village in Cromwell and cousin to Leroy Anderson, the renowned composer of "Sleighride", will perform Swedish Christmas music beginning at 12:30 p.m. An accomplished pianist and violinist, she will entertain on both instruments before and during this event.
Concluding Carol's book presentation, the fantasy journey continues for attendees who will view a miniature procession of Sankta Lucia. Carol's granddaughter Lily Wiedemann of Woodbury will portray Lucia, joined by her friends Ella Viau and Fiona Pedro as attendants, Wylden Abraham and Isaac Brenneman as Starboys and Connor Viau as a young Tomte. Lucia will invite all to enjoy the Swedish refreshments including Lucia buns and Pepparkakor.
"Enchantment ─dventyr", is a creative blending of Swedish folklore elements, into and around reality including a "genealogical" historical lifestyle within holiday customs. The appendix includes three holiday menus with select recipes enjoyed by the book's characters and Carol's tips on researching your heritage with Resource References. The Hickory Stick Bookshop will be selling books and Carol will be available after the event to sign books.
Snow date: Sunday December 15 at 1:00 p.m.
New Year's Tea PartyRing in the New Year with an old-fashioned Victorian Tea Party at the Gunn Museum. The Museum will be decorated for the holidays and visitors will have the opportunity to view the spectacular exhibit, "Coming to America: Washington's Swedish Immigrants," and socialize with friends in a festive setting. Guests are asked to bring their favorite tea cup, we'll provide the rest. The event is free and open to the public but registration is requested; please call the Museum at 860-868-7756 to register. The snow date is Sunday January 5 from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Saturday January 4 from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Snow date: Sunday January 5 from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
St. Knut's Day Exhibit Closing ReceptionJoin us for a closing reception for the exhibit "Coming to America: Washington's Swedish Immigrants" in the Gunn Museum. Traditional Swedish holiday refreshments will be served in this fitting end to our exhibit.
Sunday, January 12 from 1:00-3:00 p.m.
The Swedes, Finns, and Norwegians ritualize the end of Christmas with the honoring of St. Knut or Tjugondag Knut which translates into the 20th Day of Knut or the 20th day after Christmas Eve. On St. Knut's day, the Christmas tree is ransacked of all the edibles and after the lights and non-edible decorations are taken down and stored, the tree is literally kicked to the curb. Many set the tree ablaze for a great outdoor bonfire, and sing one last round of O Tannenbaum.
The origin of St. Knut's begins in Denmark, where St. Knut, more commonly known as King Canute IV, ruled Denmark from 1080 to 1086 and claimed the throne of England. He issued laws to protect the weak, orphans, widows, and foreigners, tried to enforce the collection of tithes, and is honored as a saint for his virtue and generosity. Martyred in St. Albans Church in Jutland during a peasant uprising, his death is seen as the end of the Viking Age. King Knut proclaimed that Christmas should last for 20 days. In Sweden his feast day is the traditional day to discard the Christmas tree and end the season's festivities.
World War One Artifacts and Stories Wanted for Upcoming ExhibitWe would like to borrow World War One artifacts for display in a major upcoming exhibit at the Gunn Museum to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War One. Over 250 men and women from Washington, CT served their country during World War One, in addition to the many residents who supported the war effort on the home front.
The Gunn Museum is seeking the living descendants of Washington's World War One soldiers. Museum staff would like to hear about the military service of your ancestors and feature their stories in the exhibit. The Museum is also interested in borrowing World War One artifacts, memorabilia, pictures, documents, letters, scrapbooks, medals, uniforms, helmets, camp gear, and arms from the general public and collectors. Museum staff will scan all photographs and documents and immediately return them to you. Please contact the Museum to make an appointment before bringing in your items.
Please email digital pictures of your World War One artifacts to firstname.lastname@example.org by December 31, 2013 if you would like to participate in this exhibit. For more information call 860-868-7756.
Museum Programs at the Washington Senior Center
Readings from the ArchivesGunn Museum Curator Stephen Bartkus presents coffee hour readings from the archives of the Museum on the first Monday of the month at 10:00 a.m. from October to May, in the Washington Senior Center. A paper about the history of Washington from the Museum's archive is read, related photographs and artifacts from the Museum are displayed, and attendees share their memories in a discussion that follows.
Washington History ClubThe Washington History Club meets at the Washington Senior Center on the third Monday of the month at 10:00 a.m., typically from September to June, to discuss the history of Washington and the villages of New Preston, Marbledale and Woodville. Participants are asked to bring their photographs and objects that relate to the monthly topic for show and tell. Everyone interested in the history of our town is invited to attend the meetings and share their memories.
The Washington Senior Center is located at 6 Bryan Hall Plaza in the center of Washington Depot and can be reached at 860-868-0735.
Gunn Museum Won Three Prestigious Awards for Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration
We participated in the statewide commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War. Our exhibit, Letters from the Battlefield: Stories of Washington's Civil War Soldiers, closed on October 30, 2011 but our research from the exhibit can now be found through the link above. We are continuing our research, and new information will be added to the site. If you have material on soldiers from Washington and New Preston to share, please contact us.
In 2011 the Gunn Museum's Annual History Project with the Shepaug Valley Middle School 8th Grade was supported by a grant from the S. E. & L. C. Backhus Foundation and resulted in the student produced book New Preston Soldiers in the Civil War: Through Their Letters.
For more information about Connecticut and the Civil War, please explore:
the Central Connecticut State University Civil War site our YouTube channel and these blogs: The Civil War Letters of Gunnery Student Charley Goodyear The Soldiers of Washington Connecticut
In the News... The museum was featured in an article in ONE New England online magazine.
And the museum was commended for its collaboration with Shepaug Valley Middle School by the Connecticut Humanities Council.
Home | What's Up | Index | About Us | Catalog & Links | Kids | Blogs | Museum | Contact Us