Hand Me Down the Fiddle
Norwegian Fiddlers, Fiddles, and Fiddle Tunes in the Upper Midwest

August 15, 2024 - May 18, 2025

Who were Ole Bull, Ole Hendricks, Johan Arndt Mostad, Thea Arndt Clark, Bill Sherburne, Arnold Munkel, Ellen Blagen, LeRoy Larson, and Elmo Wick? Find out about these Norwegian and Norwegian-American fiddlers, as well as fiddle makers and tune collectors from Norwegian-American communities in the Upper Midwest.

This exhibition will include music made on Hardanger fiddles and flat fiddles, as well as musical styles from Norway and America. We’ll share stories through artifacts, instruments, photographs, recordings, and video from Vesterheim’s collection, other organizations, and the community.

The project consultant and guest curator for the exhibition is fiddler and music historian Beth Hoven Rotto.

Visitors will have the opportunity to connect with the culture and experiences of exceptional, everyday musicians from the recent past to the present. In addition to the exhibit, Vesterheim will present in-person and online events that showcase this unique musical heritage. There will be a gallery talk and an online multi-session music workshop Hoven-Rotto. Paul Sveinall (Marnardal, Norway) and Benedicte Maurseth (Bergen, Norway) will give fiddle lectures, and Karen Rebholz (Madison, Wisconsin) will demonstrate fiddle construction and decoration. There will be a Foot-Notes dance and music performances by fiddlers Nina Byttingsmyr (Froland, Norway) and Eden Ehm (Decorah, Iowa).

Check back for details and dates of special events.

The exhibition is supported by a Scandinavian Folk Arts & Cultural Traditions in the Upper Midwest grant from the American Scandinavian Foundation (ASF) and a generous gift to the Vesterheim Annual Fund from Carol Birkland and Tom Woxland, and Peter Dahlen and Mary S. Carlsen.