Innovators and Inventors

Open through May 30, 2022

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.

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.

Innovators & Inventors Lecture Series

Vesterheim is excited to pair the Innovators & Inventors exhibit with a free lecture series that will bring together some of the most creative and inspiring Norwegian-American leaders, thinkers, and artists working today.

Sonja Hoel Perkins
Watch a recording of this presentation here.

Jamie Holmes
Historic Innovation Presentation I
Watch a recording of this presentation here.

Lucy Tuve Comly and Christine Tuve Burris
Historic Innovation Presentation II
Watch a recording of this presentation here.

Rick Steves
An Innovator Abroad
Watch a recording of this presentation here.

Dr. Jeffrey Stamp
Teaching Innovation
Watch a recording of this presentation here.

Vesterheim is grateful the Tomson Family Foundation for supporting the exhibit and lecture series.
Workers and John Groset standing by the first ice cream making maching.
Image above: 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 to the exhibit will learn about his battle to protect his patent for the machine.