Folk Art School

Vesterheim Folk Art School

Find YOUR way to create!

Registration for online and in-person classes through March 2023 opens on Nov. 10 at noon. You can find full information and sign up here!

We will continue to release class registration by each quarter of the year:

  • January-March: November 10 at Noon CT
  • April-June: February 10 at Noon CT
  • July-September: May 10 at Noon CT
  • October-December: August 10 at Noon CT

We’re getting ready for 2023! See a list (PDF) here of classes set for January-March and get ready to register on November 10. Also, see a preliminary list here of in-person classes for 2023 and start making plans to visit Decorah.

For those attending on-site classes, details about our COVID-19 responses and policies can be found here.

New Registration Process

To offer improved customer service, Vesterheim Folk Art School has moved to a new enrollment system. Our new enrollment system will better serve our customers by allowing you to purchase a folk-art class, folk-art supplies, and other items from the Museum Store all in one place. In order to register for a class, you will now need to create an account. If you have purchased something online from the Museum Store in the past year, you may already have an account. Creating an account takes less than five minutes, and you can do so at the link here

Folk Art School Scholarships and Discounts

Find complete information and application forms here.

For More Information:

Celebrating Over 50 Years of
Vesterheim Folk Art School!

The first two classes, held in 1967, were Hardanger embroidery, taught by Carola Schmidt of Decorah, and a rosemaling class, taught by Sigmund Aarseth, from Norway. The folk-art education program grew in 1968 to five classes with 63 students from 12 states. The Gold Medalist program also was born in 1967.

The rest is history. A vast number of students are now instructors teaching throughout the United States and other countries. Throughout the years, over 100 gold medals have been awarded in four categories—rosemaling, knifemaking, woodworking, and weaving.

Vesterheim’s study tours to Norway offer folk artists a unique learning opportunity based on the museum’s ties and relationships with the artists and institutions of Norway. Participants learn from leading Norwegian artists, surrounded by the beauty and traditions of this inspiring place.

The folk-art experience at Vesterheim doesn’t end with classes. Through the National Norwegian-American Folk Art Exhibition, Vesterheim celebrates the past, present, and future of folk art by encouraging and inspiring emerging and established folk artists to develop their craft. This program is vital for promoting folk artists and serves to ensure that these beautiful age-old traditions and skills are preserved.

Folk Art School Facilities

Most Vesterheim classes are held at the museum’s Westby-Torgerson Education Center, 502 W. Water Street, in Decorah. The center houses classrooms, workshops, the Museum Store, a student lounge, the Fladager Reference Library, the Bruening Visitor Center, and offices. Forging classes are held in the forging shop, next to the Westby-Torgerson Education Center and food traditions classes are held in Vesterheim’s Bethania Lutheran Church basement.

The Westby-Torgerson Education Center’s student lounge is located on the third floor. Facilities include a refrigerator, microwave, stove, sink, coffee maker, pop machine, and tables and chairs.

There is also a Heritage Park of 12 historic buildings and the outside grounds are open to enjoy any time. There are tables outside the museum’s Main Building for picnics and lounging in the sun.

Most classrooms and other facilities in the Westby-Torgerson Education Center are accessible by elevator or ramp. If you have questions or concerns about accessibility, please contact Jane Addams, Folk Art Education Coordinator for In-Person Learning, at 563-382-9681, ext. 232, or email at jaddams@vesterheim.org.

Students must make their own housing and dining arrangements.

Housing

For information about Decorah’s housing and food options check with the Winneshiek County Convention & Visitors Bureau and The Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce. There are many local accommodations offered on airbnb.

If you have trouble finding housing, please call Vesterheim at (563) 382-9681 for assistance. There may be other options for accommodations in the area. A short list of private home stays is made available to registered students.

Food

A variety of moderately priced restaurants are within walking distance from Vesterheim. Find information about area restaurants here.

The Westby-Torgerson Education Center has a student lounge located on the third floor. Facilities include a refrigerator, microwave, stove, sink, coffee maker, pop machine, and tables and chairs.

There are also tables outside the museum’s Main Building and there are many near-by parks for picnics.

Transportation

Decorah is just under a 3-hour drive from Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, and about a 2-hour drive from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It is approximately 60 miles from La Crosse, Wisconsin, and 80 miles from Rochester, Minnesota, and Waterloo, Iowa.

There are various shuttle services that run regularly scheduled shuttles between the Minneapolis airport and downtown Rochester, Minnesota. There are car rental agencies near the shuttle drop-off to continue your trip to Decorah.

Hometown Taxi, or 563-382-3155, in Decorah will pick you up at all area city airports, train stations, and shuttle drop-offs with advanced reservations (at least 48 hours). Generally, rides are $1.50 per mile while you are in the car. There is no charge for extra riders.

Class Supplies

Before each class begins, all students will be emailed a supply list and additional class information. The supply list may include a materials fee for specific items required by the instructor for the class. This fee is paid directly to the instructor at the conclusion of class. Other basic supplies on the supply list should be purchased before class and most are available through the Museum Store.

Vesterheim can provide rosemalers with paints, brush cleaner, and painting medium for a $25 palette fee. A basic woodcarving set is available to rent for $25. These supplies must be ordered from Vesterheim in advance. Students might want to bring additional equipment for their own personal needs, a magnifying light for example.

Ordering Supplies

Vesterheim Museum Store includes everything a folk-art enthusiast needs, whether you are just getting started or have been working at your art for years. You’ll find books and videos on fiber arts, textiles, rosemaling, painting, woodworking, and knifemaking. There are also tools and patterns for woodworking; brushes, paints, and patterns for rosemaling; and beautiful hand-made woodenware ready to decorate. Supplies needed for each class are always available in the store.

The friendly and accommodating store staff, led by Ken Koop and Shelley Hendricks, are ready to take and fill your orders in person, on the phone, or through our online store.

Located at 502 W. Water St., in the museum’s Westby-Torgerson Education Center, the store is open daily, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Call 1-800-979-3346 with orders and questions. 

All students receive a 20% discount on purchases made in the Museum Store throughout the duration of any class they are attending.

Rosemaling Letter

Vesterheim members have the opportunity to purchase the Rosemaling Letter, a full-color magazine sent three times each year. The publication includes articles by other rosemalers about the craft, information about Vesterheim events for folk artists, designs, and pictures of rosemaling pieces from Vesterheim collection and other rosemalers.

Vesterheim Folk Art School has a long reputation as a place that fosters community. Whether in our online or in-person programs, we strive to offer an inclusive space where people of diverse ages, backgrounds, and abilities can gather and celebrate handcraft traditions. Through story sharing, making, and learning as a community, we keep folk art alive and moving forward. The Folk Art School offers several ways to provide better financial access for all. Scholarships are supported by gifts to Vesterheim’s annual fund. 

Need-based Scholarships

Our scholarship program is designed as a pay what you can model. We encourage anyone with financial need to apply. Applicants may apply for a scholarship once per year to be used toward one class.

The goals of the scholarship program are as follows:

  • To support the learning of those with professional aspirations in a particular folk-art discipline or area of study.
  • To increase the diversity of age and race in Vesterheim’s student body.
  • To offer greater opportunities to residents of the Decorah area.
  • To make our programming available to those with financial need.

For in-person classes, scholarships apply only to tuition. Students are responsible for providing their own lodging, covering any materials fees for the class, and providing their own tools.

For online classes, a kit of materials is sometimes included in the course registration fee. Scholarships will be applied to the total cost of an online course, including the kit of materials.

Examples:

  • 20% tuition discount
  • 60% tuition discount
  • Full tuition scholarship

If one of these options isn’t the appropriate one, a student may request a specific percentage or dollar-amount discount on tuition and pay the remainder. If you are interested in applying for a need-based scholarship please submit this form. 

Local Standby Pricing Option

Vesterheim offers a 60% discount for in-person class tuition on a space-available standby basis to any legal year-round resident living within 50 miles of Vesterheim. Students will be notified about the availability of an opening in the class 21 days before the starting date of the class period. Discounts do not include materials fees. If local area residents want a guaranteed place in a class, they must pay regular class tuition. If you are interested in signing up for a class with the local standby option please submit this form.  

Regional Educational Partner Standby Option

In-person class tuition for full-time enrolled Luther College students and members of the Oneota Weaver’s Guild is discounted 60% on a space available, standby basis. Students will be notified about the availability of an opening in the class 21 days before the starting date of the class period. Discounts do not include materials fees. If students want a guaranteed place in a class, they must pay regular class tuition. If you are interested in signing up for a class with the regional partner standby option please submit this form.  

Emerging Artists Scholarship Program

To keep our class offerings accessible to young artists, Vesterheim offers Emerging Artists Scholarships to help cover the cost of tuition and tools or materials to study folk art at Vesterheim. These are only available for in-person classes. Any artist between the ages of 18-26 is eligible to apply. We will award up to $4,000 in scholarships per year (8 total for 2022 and 2023). Applications are available here.

Enrollment, Cancellation, and Refund Policy for Online Programs

Vesterheim Folk Art School offers many different online experiences. These experiences can be divided into two types: those that involve a kit of tools and materials shipped from Vesterheim and those that do not.

To cancel an enrollment in an online class involving a kit or recipes, email aellingsen@vesterheim.org with your request to cancel. If we have not already sent you an email informing you your kit has shipped or sharing recipes, you will receive a full refund. If we have sent you the email confirming kit shipment or sharing recipes, no refund will be given. (Note: Although some of our Norwegian language classes require participants to purchase their own textbook, all fall in the category of classes involving a kit. Vesterheim sends an email with details about the class approximately two weeks prior to the first class session.  After this email has been sent, no refunds will be given for language classes.)

To cancel an enrollment in an online class with no kit involved, email aellingsen@vesterheim.org with your request to cancel. If you email us up to 24 hours before the scheduled beginning of the experience, you will receive a full refund.

We do not give refunds after you have participated in an online program or class. Refunds are also not given if you don’t participate and haven’t informed us in advance of the class/program of your intention not to participate.

Enrollment, Cancellation, and Refund Policy for Onsite Programs

A minimum number of registered students is required for a class to be held. We must meet our minimum number 21 days prior to the class starting date, or the class will be cancelled. If a student wishes to cancel enrollment, a notice in writing (e-mail is acceptable) is required. Students who cancel their enrollment more than 21 days prior to the first day of the course will receive a refund less a $25 processing fee to cover administrative costs. In recognition of the time and energy instructors invest in preparing for courses, students withdrawing 20 days or less prior to the start date of a class will receive no refund. We are unable to transfer payments from one class to another.

If Vesterheim cancels a class, students will receive a full refund of any payments made for that course.

There will be no refunds or prorated tuition for late arrivals, early departures, or missed class once class has started (non-COVID-19 related).

These policies are related to COVID-19 protocols and procedures – Full refunds will be provided to sick students up until class starts. If any student is asked to leave because of a health concern once class has started, Vesterheim will issue a class credit voucher to the student. The other students and instructor can choose whether to continue the course or end it at that time. Prorated tuition refunds for other students will also be issued as class credit vouchers. Materials fee refunds will be on a case-by-case basis.