In Trunks, Hearts, and Hands Program in Des Moines, Iowa

The heirloom trunks that once held an immigrant’s belongings now hold their stories. Explore these stories at a program and luncheon presented by the Des Moines Area Friends of Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum on August 27 from 12:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. The event will be at the Hotel Renovo, 11167 Hickman Road, Urbandale, Iowa, and will include the program In Trunks, Hands, and Hearts: What Norwegian Immigrants Brought to the United States, by Laurann Gilbertson, Chief Curator at Vesterheim.

Everyone is welcome! Tickets are $30 for museum members and $35 for non-members. Reservations are required by August 22 and can be made by contacting Vesterheim’s Development Events Coordinator Karla Brown at 563-382-9681, x107, or

Norwegian immigrant trunks are often cherished family heirlooms, but they also serve as a way to begin thinking about immigrant experiences themselves. Between 1825 and 1980, nearly one million Norwegians left for new lives in America. What factors motivated people to leave family and their homeland to start a life in a new place? What did they choose to take with them on their voyage? What challenges did they face during their journeys and as they settled in a new land?

Using photos of trunks from the museum’s collection and stories related to those trunks, Laurann will consider these questions and more. Guests are encouraged to bring and share photographs of their immigrant trunks and to wear their Norwegian sweaters or Norwegian costumes (bunader).

The luncheon will include Pioneer Pasta (tender pork medallions over egg noddles baked with a garlic herb sauce) OR vegetarian pasta. Both are served with Farmers’ Blend vegetables, cranberry sweet potatoes, and apple dumpling dessert, as well as beverage and homemade bread.

Vesterheim is happy to collaborate with Living History Farms! They are offering buy-one-get-one-free admission tickets to everyone at this luncheon event. Take the hotel shuttle across the road to this fascinating interactive outdoor museum after the luncheon, or visit at a later date.