Annual Fund

What is the Annual Fund?

The Annual Fund allows Vesterheim to open its doors to visitors; turn on the lights; care for its extensive collection; offer exhibitions, events, and educational programs; perform research; and serve both members and visitors throughout the world. Annually, it costs nearly $2 million to operate the museum. Some of this expense is defrayed by income from admissions, events, membership, store sales, class tuition, and tours, but as with most museums, contributions to Vesterheim’s Annual Fund is absolutely crucial. Your contribution to this fund goes to work immediately to keep Vesterheim vital for generations to come and allows this institution to carry out its mission each and every day.

Thanks to you and people like you who give to Vesterheim’s Annual Fund, we are able to offer the world class exhibits, programs, and publications to which you have become accustomed.

Help secure the future of this unique place which preserves a heritage and connects us all.

Make Your Gift Now

To donate by mail, please print a donation form (pdf) and send the form, along with your check or credit card information to:
Development Department
Vesterheim Museum
P.O. Box 379
Decorah, IA 52101

For questions regarding your donation, contact Nicholas Klein at 563-382-9681, ext. 109, or email at

How Does the Annual Fund Help?

Below are highlights of the ways in which your dollars provide for a little bit of everything.

Collections and Research

  • On any day, curatorial staff preserves and cares for the museum’s collection of over 24,000 artifacts—the very heart of Vesterheim—in secure, environmentally controlled conditions.
  • On any day, curatorial staff creates exciting, informative exhibitions and related programming.
  • On any day, curatorial staff works with donors, researchers, and students, and arranges for the transfer of artifacts to Vesterheim.
  • On any day, the Registrar/Librarian catalogs objects, books, and periodicals to make them more accessible and easier to use.
  • On any day, curatorial staff conducts research using artifacts and documents in the collection.


  • On any day, people learn about Norwegian-American culture and traditions through Vesterheim classes and tours.
  • On any day, children encounter new worlds through the museum’s third-grade WOW (Window on the World) Farm Program; fourth-grade Pioneer Immersion Program; and Barnetimen preschool program.
  • On any day, museum staff works to create special events like Syttende Mai, Nordic Fest, and Norwegian Christmas Celebration, where visitors can experience living heritage firsthand.


  • On any day, the museum communicates with an international audience through its web site, with a calendar of events, a class schedule, virtual galleries, membership and development opportunities, secure online shopping, and more.
  • On any day, Publications Department staff works to create the museum’s full-color magazine, Vesterheim; catalogs for the Museum Store and folk-art classes; Rosemaling Letter; the museum’s e-newsletter, Vesterheim Current; and brochures for exhibitions, tours to Norway, and events.


  • On any day, museum staff manages financial and human resources.
  • On any day, buildings and equipment are maintained and technology is updated to facilitate security, record-keeping, and communication.