Bidding Information

Seventh Biennial Vesterheim Benefit Auction

Bidding Information

Click here to for a Bidder Registration Form in a PDF format

Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum is hosting its seventh biennial Benefit Auction to raise money for Vesterheim’s folk-art education programs. Some of the nation’s best folk artists have generously donated one-of-a-kind pieces to be auctioned. There are both silent auction and live auction pieces. These pieces are on view at beginning October 1, 2012. Individuals may bid on pieces in both the live auction and silent auction in person or from home.

How To Bid

General Bidding Information

Vesterheim’s website,, includes information about the auction items with an image of each piece, current bid price, designation of silent or live auction, and shipping restrictions if applicable.

Individuals must register for a bidder registration number. An online bidder registration form may be printed from the website, or individuals may request bidder registration forms by calling Martha Griesheimer at Vesterheim at 563-382-9681, or e- mailing her at Completed forms may be mailed to Vesterheim Museum, PO Box 379, Decorah, IA 52101, faxed to 563-382-8828, or scanned and e-mailed to Initial bids for live auction or silent auction items may be designated on the bidder registration form. Forms must be signed to be considered valid.

Silent bidding is from October 1 at 8:00 a.m. through October 17 at 5:00 p.m. Individuals may bid on all pieces in the exhibition, whether designated silent auction or live auction, during this time. Bidding begins at the starting bid established by the artist or donor. All new bids must be at least $12 more than the current bid.

If individuals cannot attend the live auction on Oct. 19, but wish to bid by phone during the live auction, it is important that they get their bidder registration number beforehand. For live auction pieces, Vesterheim staff managing the bids will call registered bidders who have indicated they wish to be called about a final bid. A limited number of proxy bidders equipped with cell phones will be assigned to manage bidding on silent auction items. Requests for proxy bidding will not be accepted after 5 p.m. on October 17.

Current bid amounts may be viewed by visiting Vesterheim’s website from October 1 at 1:00 p.m. through October 19 at 5:30 p.m. Items will be available for viewing only at the Steyer Opera House of the Hotel Winneshiek from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on October 19. Bidding in person for silent auction pieces resumes at 5:30 p.m. on October 19 for those attending the Gala Dinner in the Steyer Opera House of the Hotel Winneshiek.

The doors will open for non-banquet guests at 7:00 p.m. and the final bidding for the silent auction ends at 7:45 p.m. Bidding for the live auction pieces begins at 8:00 p.m.

Bidding at Vesterheim

At the Bruening Visitor Center, 502 W. Water Street, a computer is available for viewing items on Vesterheim’s website. Bidder registration forms are available at the visitor center and staff there can assist with registration and bidding. Individuals with bidder registration numbers may check the current bids online at any time and submit bids as often as they wish, by phone, fax, e-mail, or in person until 5:00 p.m. October 17. See above for information about bidding at the auction event.

Bidding from Home

Individuals may view the auction items online at Vesterheim website. Individuals with bidder registration numbers may check the current bids online at any time and submit bids as often as they wish, by phone, fax, or e-mail. All bids by fax or e-mail must be placed by October 17 at 5:00 p.m. Vesterheim is not responsible for letters, faxes, or e-mails that do not arrive by the deadline. Bidding for silent auction pieces will resume at 5:30 p.m. October 19 and end at 7:45 p.m. The live auction will begin at 8:00 p.m.

In order to bid from home on October 19, an individual must indicate on the bidder registration form which live and silent auction pieces to be contacted about and provide a phone number to call that night. Vesterheim staff will call individuals who have indicated an interest in live auction pieces during the time that piece is being auctioned. Calls related to the silent auction pieces will be assigned to proxy bidders, as available, to represent bidders on the floor. Proxy bidders will call bidders with the current bid on the pieces indicated and place bids as directed. Individuals may also indicate on their registration forms the highest amount they are willing to pay for an auction item, and the auctioneer or proxy bidder can increase bids in $11 increments up to your maximum. Individuals must give a specific amount, i.e. no “I’ll top the highest bidder” bids allowed. Vesterheim is not responsible for wrong numbers, unanswered calls, or busy signals.

Winning Bidder Notification

Successful bidders at the October 19 event will see their bidder number and name posted next to the silent auction items at the end of the evening. Winning bids will be posted online on October 22. Successful bidders not present the night of the auction will be notified by Vesterheim staff by phone or email after October 22 to arrange payment and schedule the delivery of pieces.

Shipping or Delivery Options

  1. Winning bidders present at the auction may take their pieces home with them.
  2. Most pieces can be shipped. Winning bidders are responsible for the cost of packing and shipping the item. Shipping and handling charges are indicated for each item on the web site and at the exhibition. Some items cannot be shipped through our mail- order center because they are too fragile, bulky, etc. The winning bidder is ultimately responsible for getting these pieces, but Vesterheim staff may be able to assist in making alternate arrangements for shipping special items. The winning bidder is responsible for all charges incurred. Payment for all items and shipping must be received before items will be shipped.
  3. Winning bidders may make arrangements with Vesterheim staff to pick up their pieces in person in a timely manner during regular business hours at the Bruening Visitor Center, 502 W. Water Street, Decorah, Iowa.


Payment is by cash, check made out to Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, or credit card (American Express, Discover, MasterCard, or VISA.) Payment and shipping arrangements will be made when successful bidders are notified. Payment must be received before items will be shipped. Individuals are obligated to pay for all items for which they are the highest bidder.

Donation Credit For Purchase

This auction is a success because of the generosity of the artists, the donors, and the bidders. Donation credit in Vesterheim’s records is therefore split between them. The artists or donors are responsible for setting the minimum bid price, and that is the amount of in-kind credit they receive in their donor record. Winning bidders will receive donation credit for the amount they pay above the minimum bid price. Deductions for tax purposes are determined by IRS rules and regulations and should be discussed with a tax advisor.

Vesterheim is truly grateful for the generous support of the museum’s Folk-Art Education Program. Over the years, the Benefit Auctions have raised significant funds to support the museum’s mission of teaching and sharing Norwegian and Norwegian- American folk skills and traditions.

For Additional Questions

Bidding questions may be directed to Martha Griesheimer,, and general auction questions to Michelle Whitehill, Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, PO Box 379, Decorah, IA 52101, phone 563-382-9681.