This Massive Tapestry at the Milwaukee Art Museum Was Almost Lost to History

Curator Monica Obniski on why a long-lost tapestry resonates with her

One piece at the Milwaukee Art Museum’s latest exhibition was almost lost forever. Sørover (Southward), a woven tapestry created by Norwegian artist Frida Hansen in 1903, disappeared after the artist’s death in 1931.

Seventy years passed with no sign of Hansen’s piece, until 2021. The tapestry had somehow found its way to New England, where an antiques dealer discovered it while searching through an estate.

“It just looks like the coolest textile ever,” says Monica Obniski, a curator for MAM’s “Scandinavian Design and the United States 1890-1980.” “It’s these nine Norse goddesses who are riding swans.”


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In 2022, Obniski heard that Sørover had finally been found, and now she’s put it on display at MAM through July 23, alongside furniture, jewelry and even a Viking punch bowl.

“It’s one of these miracle finds,” Obniski says. “It’s a tale of an object that we thought was lost to history, but in fact, it was just hidden in a trunk for a very long time.



This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine’s April issue.

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Brianna Schubert is the associate digital editor and writes about art, culture and more at Milwaukee Magazine. When she’s not writing/editing, she’s likely reading (follow her book reviews on Instagram at @read_with_bee), cooking or listening to Taylor Swift.