The year-long celebration of the centennial of The American-Scandinavian Foundation (ASF) began in fall 2010, with the opening of Nordic Models + Common Ground: Art and Design Unfolded, an exhibition organized by ASF in collaboration with Norsk Form — The Foundation for Design and Architecture in Norway, and curated by the internationally celebrated architecture firm Snøhetta. Also in October 2010, a gala dinner marked the tenth year of Scandinavia House, with honored guests Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, who were joined by members of the U.S. and Nordic cultural, educational, business, and philanthropic communities.
In spring 2011 the second centennial exhibition North by New York: New Nordic Art, a focused survey of contemporary Scandinavian art co-curated by internationally renowned scholar and critic Robert Storr and art historian and independent curator Francesca Pietropaolo, featured works by established leaders of contemporary Nordic art, as well as mid-career and emerging artists.
The third in three exhibitions organized in celebration of ASF’s 100th anniversary, Luminous Modernism: Scandinavian Art Comes to America 1912 opened at Scandinavia House in October 2011. Luminous Modernism features several of the artists and works from the original 1912 exhibition, but expands upon it by including art from the same period from all five Nordic countries. It additionally offers insight into a significant and often overlooked chapter in the history of North American dialogue with European art, and highlights the importance of Scandinavian art as a model for early modern artists in North America.
In addition to special exhibitions, the ASF presented an enhanced schedule of programs throughout its centennial year, including a variety of celebratory initiatives exploring arts and ideas. These include lecture series, concerts, films, festivals, and special activities for families and children. In addition, the three 2011 issues of the ASF’s flagship publication, Scandinavian Review, featured a comprehensive overview of the events, achievements, and people behind the organization.
Since its incorporation in 1911, the ASF has been dedicated to promoting mutual understanding through educational exchange between the U.S. and the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden). This international work is at the heart of the Foundation’s mission. Each year, it awards nearly $1 million+ in fellowships and grants to individual students, scholars, professionals, and artists for study and research in the United States and abroad. To date, nearly 30,000 Americans and Scandinavians have participated in these and other ASF programs of study, research, or practical training. When the ASF was established, by Danish-American industrialist Niels Poulson and a group of other forward-thinking leaders, it was the first international non-governmental society to have as its sole purpose the development of goodwill through educational exchange.
In October 2000, the ASF opened Scandinavia House as a showplace for Nordic culture and life. To date, it has welcomed over a million visitors, who have come to enjoy exhibitions, performances, lectures, and more. Scandinavia House was financed by the generosity of more than 300 donors from the U.S. and abroad, including individuals, corporations, and foundations, as well as the Nordic governments and the Nordic Council of Ministers.