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American Swedish History Museum awarded grant

Olaf Althin’s wagon with furniture in front of his shop in 1906. Image courtesy the Winterthur Library: Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera

MEDIA, Pa. – The Decorative Arts Trust has announced that the recipient of the 2020 Failey Grant is the American Swedish History Museum  in Philadelphia.

The Trust’s Failey Grant program provides support for noteworthy research, exhibition, publication and conservation projects through the Dean F. Failey Fund, named in honor of the Trust’s late Governor. Preference is given to projects that employ or are led by young professionals in the museum field. The Committee increased the level of funding for 2020 to $10,000.

In 2021, the ASHM will mount the exhibition “American by Craft: The Art Furniture of Olaf Althin,” which presents the career of a largely forgotten immigrant cabinetmaker. Working in Boston at the turn of the 20th century, Althin was an influential figure in the nascent American antiques trade. Curator Trevor Brandt is serving as project lead, assisted by Erica Lome, a doctoral candidate in the American Civilization Program at the University of Delaware and a past recipient of a Summer Research Grant from the Trust.

Lome learned of Althin’s impressive career during her dissertation research, and the curatorial team has reconstructed his story while locating furniture made by him and tools, papers, photographs and drawings to contextualize his oeuvre.

Olaf Althin and his family, courtesy, the Winterthur Library: Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera

His impressive list of patrons included H. Eugene Bolles, Henry Davis Sleeper and John Wanamaker. The ASHM’s show will juxtapose Althin’s Scandinavian craft background against the American Arts & Crafts and Colonial Revival movements.

For more information about the Failey Grant and the Decorative Arts Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program, visit, email, or call 610-627-4970. For more information about the ASHM, visit, email, or call 215-389-1776.