Just as Norwegian immigration to America began to peak in 1877, Norwegian Americans began collecting and preserving objects at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, documenting their chapter of the immigrant story, and making them pioneers in the preservation of cultural diversity in America.
That early collection has grown into one of the most comprehensive museums in the United States dedicated to a single immigrant group. Today, Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum 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. Of those 24,000 objects, only fifteen to twenty percent is on display in either the museum's Main Building or the Open Air Division. The rest of the collection is stored in one of six storage facilities.
In order to make more of Vesterheim’s collection accessible, the museum is offering a sample of the collection on line. A sampling of decorative painting (rosemaling) is now available. Throughout the coming year samplings from woodworking, textiles, fine arts, and silver will also be added.
Vesterheim's collection in storage is available for research by appointment Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Please contact the museum at least two weeks in advance to schedule an appointment.
Call Alison Dwyer at 563-382-9681 or email email@example.com to schedule an appointment.
To search an online catalog of archival collections at Vesterheim Museum and Luther College, please go to nordic.luther.edu.