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Swedish Royals Dedicate ASI's New Cultural Center

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - A celebration fit for royalty took place Saturday when Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia dedicated the new Nelson Cultural Center in south Minneapolis.

It's a new addition to the American Swedish Institute on Park Avenue, which has served the community for 82 years.

Christy Stolpestad, ASI's director of development, says the institute is not only just for the Swedish.

"We really welcome everyone," Stolpestad said.

Christy and her staff will be able to welcome visitors in a brand new space. With new classrooms and exhibit areas, the building dramatically increases available space for programming.

"We're really a gathering place for our entire community to celebrate heritage and connect to contemporary Nordic culture," Stolpestad said.

The Nelson Cultural Center took more than a year to complete. The ground-breaking happened in April of 2011.

The Center opened in June to a big celebration, with Swedish Ambassador Jonas Hafstrom in attendance.

"[The Center] strengthens the already vibrant relationships between Sweden and America," Ambassador Hafstrom said.

The building was designed to be environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient. There's a geo-thermal well-field for heating and cooling, along with large windows that flood the center with light.

And the roof of the building is made up of a slow growing plant called sedum, which act as insulation and collects moisture during rainfall, preventing run-off into the sewer.

"We were committed to expressing the Swedish values of taking care of the environment," Stolpestad said.

The Nelson Cultural Center is opened to the public, boasting a brand new gallery with exhibits from all over the world, as well as a new café.

It's a whole new feel for the American Swedish Institute – a historical place that features one of the newest and most welcoming cultural centers in the Twin Cities.

Click here to see WCCO's slideshow gallery of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia's trip to Minnesota.

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