Your Royal Highnesses,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Tonight we will celebrate the American Scandinavian Foundation's 100 years. It is a great honour to turn this into a real Scandinavian evening together with King Harald of Norway; Ólafur Grímsson, President of Iceland; Tarja Halonen, President of Finland, and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark.
The Queen and I would like to congratulate the American Scandinavian Foundation for its support of educational and cultural exchange between the United States and Scandinavia.
As patrons of the Foundation we would also like to thank many of you for your generous support. Your contributions ensure the understanding and appreciation of Scandinavia. We also want to thank the Foundation’s Chairmen Bernt Reitan and Dick Oldenburg, as well as the President, Ed Gallagher, and the board of trustees for your able leadership of the Foundation. It is a pleasure for us to join you in the celebration of this milestone in American-Scandinavian relations and history.
There are 11 million Americans of Scandinavian ancestry here in the U.S. It makes it easy to understand that we all cherish our relationship with the United States. The desire to protect and enhance these common bonds was the basis for the founding of the ASF.
In 1912, His Majesty King Gustav V, my great-grandfather, together with Their Majesties King Haakon VII of Norway and King Christian X of Denmark agreed to serve as a founding Patron of the ASF.
I have had the pleasure of taking part in several important ASF events in New York, which also includes the wonderful realization and opening of Scandinavia House.
The ASF founders understood the value of bringing visibility to the arts, thoughts, and cultures of the Nordic nations. Through art exhibitions, lectures, and publications they brought life to the Nordic countries way of living. Supporting scholars and researchers to study abroad provide an opportunity for Americans to develop a broader and balanced understanding of Scandinavian culture and our people.
It is striking that the founders wished to do this in a pan-Nordic way rather than on an individual country basis. This reveals a sign of forward-thinking which is unique. Their decision has helped to shape a regional cooperation in this country that has promoted us in many ways.
An early example is the Scandinavian Art Exhibition of 1912, which brought works by then-unknown artists to America. It gave many people in the U.S. their first introduction to Scandinavian art.
Yesterday, an exhibition called Luminous Modernism opened at Scandinavia House. It is a magnificent display showing works by famous painters; among them Edvard Munch, Vilhelm Hammershøi and Carl Larsson.
We Scandinavians like to remind the world that our documented relationship with this continent started long time ago - with Leif Eriksson, and that was nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus. It is a strong relationship, but probably also the longest.
These deep ties between Scandinavia and America have been further developed by the Foundation. On behalf of all of us Patrons we congratulate you, the American Scandinavian Foundation, on this first century of amazing work.
To many more years of bonding friendship and understanding between our people and nations - please join us in a toast.