Vesterheim is a national treasure that explores the diversity of American immigration through the lens of Norwegian-American experience, showcases the best in historic and contemporary Norwegian folk and fine arts, and preserves living traditions through classes in Norwegian culture and folk art, including rosemaling (decorative painting), woodcarving and woodworking, knifemaking, and textile arts.
Vesterheim houses over 24,000 artifacts, which include large samplings from the fine, decorative, and folk arts, and the tools and machinery of early agriculture, lumbering, and other immigrant industries. The lives of the people who settled this nation were often as colorful as their folk art and their stories speak through the objects they left behind.
When Norwegian immigrants wrote back to Norway about Vesterheim, their western home, they spoke for countless others from many cultures who helped build a nation in the New World.
Just as Norwegian immigration to America began to peak in 1877, at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, Norwegian Americans began collecting and preserving objects documenting their chapter of the immigrant story, making them pioneers in the preservation of cultural diversity in America.
Today that early collection has grown into Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, an independent not-for-profit organization, and the most comprehensive museum in the United States dedicated to a single immigrant group. Also, Vesterheim is accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM).
But Vesterheim is more than a world-class museum. It is a cultural center dedicated to preserving living traditions by offering classes in Norwegian folk art and culture, Elderhostels, and special programs for pre-school, elementary, secondary, and college students. Vesterheim also hosts events, lectures, and special exhibitions scheduled throughout the year.
We invite you to visit Vesterheim. Help preserve Norwegian immigrant culture and celebrate the variety of our country's rich ethnic traditions.