Innovators and Inventors

Opening September 24, 2021

Although many people have heard of Ole Evinrude’s outboard motor or John Tokheim’s gasoline pump, many more Norwegian Americans have made significant contributions to our daily lives. Innovators and Inventors is an exciting new exhibit from Vesterheim that celebrates the creativity and ingenuity of Norwegian immigrants and their descendants in America.

The exhibit will cover everything from Karsten Solheim’s ergonomic golf putters to the pacemaker, invented by Earl Bakken. We’ll also meet people like Harriet Lovseth, the South Dakota teacher who invented a chalk holder to keep her students a little bit cleaner at the end of the day.

In addition to patents, drawings, models, and artifacts, Vesterheim will share the stories behind the creations and help shine a light on some unknown Norwegian immigrants and their descendants who helped make the world a better place. We’re not just focused on innovations of the past, however. Contemporary innovators and inventors will also be featured prominently in the exhibit.

Check back for a schedule of special events and online activities.

In this article from Vesterheim, Vol. 18, No.2, 2020 – Innovators and Inventors, Richard P. Beem shares the life story and inventions of his uncle, Emil Hanson. Vesterheim magazine is a member benefit. Learn more about becoming a Vesterheim member here.

Vesterheim is grateful to exhibit sponsors the Tomson Family Foundation.
Workers and John Groset standing by the first ice cream making maching.
John Groset of Bothell, Washington, invented the first machine for forming and baking ice cream cones. Groset came from Norway in 1905 and began patenting his cone-making inventions in 1911. This very large machine was patented in 1914 and put to use in Groset’s Consolidated Wafer Company. Visitors will learn about his battle to protect his patent for the machine.