Meet Ulla the Baker at the American Swedish Institute

The Ulla the Baker Exhibit is no longer at the American Swedish Institute. You can probably still find the books in the gift shop. Find the latest Family Gallery Exhibit here.

Ulla the Baker (Ulla I Bageriet) and Ulla the Baker Goes Skiing (Bagaren Ulla Aker Skidor) are Swedish Children’s books by author Anders Suneson. They are not easy to find in the U.S., but the American Swedish Institute (ASI) has them in the gift shop in both Swedish and English. ASI will be bringing the Ulla books to life in its interactive Family Gallery from now through Oct 07, 2018.

Anders Sunseson is a multi-talented artist. Besides several published children’s books, Anders is a cartoonist, a wood sculptor and an independent film maker. He also has paintings and drawings for sale on his website. His short films are on YouTube. They are not subtitled, but only one really required translation. The film below was my favorite.

In Suneson’s illustrated books, Ulla is a baker in Östersund, Sweden, who loves to make cinnamon buns and greets challenge and adversity with creativity. Until the current partnership between Suneson and ASI, the books had not been translated to English. ASI worked with Suneson to translate and publish the books here in Minnesota. ASI is now the U.S. distributor of the books. As a result, the price ($16.00) is comparable to any new children’s book because the shipping prices have been avoided.

Ulla the Baker Exhibit at ASI

Families can visit ASI to read the books and then play Ulla themselves in the Youth and Family Gallery. Like last year’s, Cows Can Dream, ASI and Suneson have met the challenge of converting the gallery in the historic Turnblad Mansion without permanent changes to the structure itself. The result is a bakery playhouse where kids can bake their own cinnamon buns, a puppet theater, a “knee hockey pond”, and an area to pretend to make chainsaw woodcarvings like Suneson.

Ulla the Baker exhibit at ASI

Outside, in the Courtyard, there is more Ulla fun with a wood carvings by Suneson of Ulla carrying her burnt cinnamon buns among timber-framed structures and a real life kicksleds that visitors can try out. Now is a really good time to visit because we have snow. Once this winter’s snow melts, it is unlikely we’ll have move before the exhibit ends.

Ulla the Baker in ASI Courtyard

Unlike other exhibits, this exhibit is really geared toward the smaller kids without much for the bigger kids. If you are coming as a family with mixed ages, the older kids may enjoy splitting off on their own or with one parent to visit the rest of the museum. The year is the Year of the Hand Made at ASI and there will be revolving exhibits of hand made art throughout the year. My tween looks forward to Kids in the Castle visits because she can sneak off to one of the nooks to read or draw.

When to Visit the Ulla the Baker Exhibit

Getting the most of a a visit to ASI depends greatly on your own personality and the ages and temperaments of your children. The budget-friendly and most interactive way to visit is during Kids in the Castle. Families can visit on these days for $8 for the whole family and the staff of ASI leads participants in exhibit-related activities, including crafts and story times, before allowing them to explore on their own. The downside to Kids in the Castle is that it is crazy busy.

image courtesy ASI


At other times, admission is going to be  more ($10 adults, $5 kids, free for under 5), but the quietness of the mansion settles right into your bones and leaves you feeling relaxed and energized (maybe that’s just introverts?). One of my favorite things about visiting ASI are the homey little nooks and crannies throughout the mansion where a person can just rest and meditate. That’s obviously harder to do during busy times.

Don’t Forget to Have the Ulla the Baker experience at FIKA

After visiting the gallery and picking up the book at the gift shop*, I sat down to read the book in FIKA with a cup of coffee and a cinnamon bun of my own. The best thing about FIKA for parents is that it is situated next to the exit. The cinnamon buns are big enough to share. If you need to ease the kids out of the gallery at the end of the visit, a simple, “Let’s go share a cinnamon bun,” is a nice way to shift their focus out the door.

Ulla the Baker and a cinnamon bun

*I received a complimentary copy of the book and admission to the museum to facilitate this review. I bought my own cinnamon bun.


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