You can register easily online. Find the registration link in the description of each class.
Folk Art School
Vesterheim Folk Art School
Find YOUR way to create
at Vesterheim Folk Art School!
In 2021, Vesterheim Folk Art School is announcing programming one quarter at a time. Find a current schedule and register here.
Online classes are available from anywhere! So far, we’ve had students join us from a few blocks away and from around the world in places like Australia, Ireland, and Norway. Online classes offer a whole new opportunity to connect people to folk art, and we are dedicated to the growth of online programs in this format.
Vesterheim is constantly evaluating when it will be safe to reopen onsite, and we hope to offer onsite classes later in 2021. Check back for the latest updates.
Celebrating 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 Lea Lovelace, Director of Folk Art Education, at 563-382-9681, ext. 224, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students must make their own housing and dining arrangements.
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.
A variety of moderately priced restaurants are within walking distance from Vesterheim. The Winneshiek County Convention & Visitors Bureau has information about area restaurants.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Enrollment Cancellation and Refund Policy
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 a class involving a kit, email email@example.com with your request to cancel. If we have not already sent you an email to inform you your kit has shipped, you will receive a full refund. If we have sent you the email confirming kit shipment, no refund will be given.
To cancel an enrollment in an online experience with no kit involved, email firstname.lastname@example.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 experience or class. Refunds are also not given if you don’t participate and haven’t informed us in advance of the class/experience of your intention not to participate.