Traveling Exhibitions

Sacred Symbols: The Folk Art of Norway

Vesterheim is pleased to offer the traveling exhibition Sacred Symbols: The Folk Art of Norway, featuring wood, silver, horn, and textile artifacts from Vesterheim’s collections. Through the exhibition, visitors will be able to identify the many symbols that have come down from the Viking past and understand something about the use of symbols in family rituals in Norway in the nineteenth century. The variety of artifacts within each theme shows visitors that the symbols were used broadly each day and especially during life-changing rituals.

The exhibition is divided into four themes based on the functions of the symbols used on Norwegian folk art:

  1. Symbols that attracted good forces, good luck, or good blessings—solar and rayed motifs, seasonal and rotating motifs.
  2. Symbols that promoted fertility of the family, the flocks, and the fields—“fertile field” with seeds, hooked rhombs, lozenges, horns, and spirals.
  3. Symbols that protected the family, the farm, farm animals, and farm products—zigzags, knots, locks, chains of opposites.
  4. Symbols that linked people to the spirit world, deities, and the sky/earth—trees of life, equal-armed crosses, goddesses, birds, horses, deer.

This traveling exhibition is based on one at Vesterheim that was curated by Mary B. Kelly. Support for the traveling exhibition is provided by Ed Hemphill and from Walmart.

For an artifact list, touring schedule, and costs, contact Laurann Gilbertson, Chief Curator, at 563-382-9681, ext. 214, or lgilbertson@vesterheim.org.