Gunn Memorial Library in Washington will open "Coming to America: Washington's Swedish Immigrants" with a reception May 5 from 1 to 3 p.m.

The exhibit, which will run through Jan. 12, will share the little-known story of Swedish immigration to Washington.

In addition, the museum will offer several programs about Swedish immigrants and the like at the library next door.

Known for their superior agricultural skills, 1.3 million Swedes immigrated to America during the 19th and 20th centuries, escaping conscription, famine and poverty.

Washington became one of their new homes, where many found employment as laborers and servants on local farms and estates

owned by wealthy New Yorkers.

Beginning in 1870, more than 100 Swedish families settled in town and built two churches across the street from each other.

One, the Salem Covenant Church, is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

Swedes made up 22 percent of Washington's population in 1910, and many of their descendants still reside in town today.

Special programs will include "History of Washington's Swedish Immigrants" with Stephen Bartkus May 16 at noon; Connecticut Open House Day featuring a walking tour of Swede (School) Street June 8 at 11 a.m.; "The Viking Era" with Carol Skog June 11 at 6:30 p.m.; "The Swedish Empire" June 18 at 6:30 p.m.; "Two Centuries of Swedish Music" June 23 at 1 p.m.; and "Swedish Immigrants and their Culture" June 25 at 6:30 p.m.

All programs will

be at Gunn Memorial Library on Wykeham Road.

The exhibit at the Wykeham Road museum may be seen Thursdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.

For more information, call 860-868-7756 or visit www.gunnlibrary.org.