Volunteering at Vesterheim

Volunteers of all ages and abilities are involved at Vesterheim, and new volunteers are always welcome. There are great opportunities for people from many walks of life. You may be able to offer a specific skill or talent, but often, enthusiasm and a willingness to learn are the only requirements for a volunteer task!

Our volunteers are tour guides and folk artists, cooks and servers, clerical and curatorial helpers, translators and teachers, carpenters and painters, and more. Most importantly, each volunteer is an ambassador for Vesterheim.

For questions regarding volunteering at Vesterheim, contact Martha Griesheimer, coordinator of volunteers, at 563-382-9681 ext. 305, or mgriesheimer@vesterheim.org.

Your help is always welcome at Vesterheim!

Vesterheim holds infinite potential for exploration and lifelong learning. Volunteering can be a great experience that evolves over time. The important thing is to get started!

The time commitment to volunteer varies a lot. Some people volunteer weekly, while others help out for a few hours occasionally, or even just once a year. In a typical year, there are about 300 active volunteers who give over 3,000 hours of volunteer time.

Volunteer Skill List
Volunteer Questionnaire Form
Volunteer Newsletter
Volunteer Skill List

This is a list of skills that we typically look for in our volunteers.

  • Tour guide
  • Lobby host
  • Teaching assistant (youth programs, crafts)
  • Hand addressing
  • Proofreading
  • Translation
  • Sewing
  • Carpentry
  • Painting
  • Gardening
  • Cleaning
  • Inventory
  • Transportation to/from airports, etc.
  • Hospitality
  • Norwegian specialty food preparation
  • Cashier
  • Crafts materials preparation
  • Craft instruction/supervision
  • Work with children
  • Rosemaling demonstrations
  • Weaving demonstrations
  • Spinning demonstrations
  • Nålbinding demonstrations
  • Knitting demonstrations
  • Hedebosøm demonstrations
  • Hardangersøm demonstrations
  • Bunad construction and decoration demonstrations
  • Wood turning demonstrations
  • Blacksmithing demonstrations
  • Figure carving demonstrations
  • Acanthus carving demonstrations
  • Chip carving demonstrations
  • Kolrosing demonstrations
  • Ropemaking
  • Butter churning
  • Pressing apples
  • Wash clothes by hand
  • Shell/grind corn
  • Flower arranging
Volunteer Questionnaire Form

Many of the volunteer opportunities at Vesterheim are outlined on our Volunteer Questionnaire. Filling out this questionnaire is the first step in becoming involved. With your preferences in hand, Martha can contact you when opportunities arise that match your range of interests.

Please print the Volunteer Questionnaire form (pdf) and send to:

Martha Griesheimer
Vesterheim Museum
P.O. Box 379
Decorah, IA 52101

Volunteer Newsletter

An occasional volunteer newsletter is sent out to all active volunteers. Download the most recent issue below!

Martha says, “the best part of my job is working with volunteers to match them with tasks they will enjoy.”


Guides (all year, trainings in fall and spring) – Lead group tours in the Main Building and the Heritage Park.

Pioneer Immersion Program (spring) Lead nineteenth-century pioneer activities (churning butter, hand-washing clothes, etc.) for fourth-grade school groups.

Nordic Fest (spring/summer) – Greet visitors, host galleries, and more. Download a Vesterheim Volunteer Help Form for Nordic Fest here. (pdf)

WOW (Window on the World ) Farm Program (fall) – Lead nineteenth-century agricultural activities (pressing apples, threshing grain, etc.) for third-grade school groups.

Norwegian Christmas Celebration (winter) – Greet visitors, host galleries, lead craft programs, help with the coffee shop, and more.

Outreach Event Representatives (all year) – Promote Vesterheim at events around the country.

Guide Training Week

Guide training week is designed to provide background and support to Vesterheim’s guides in a concentrated format twice a year. Volunteers who have indicated an interest in becoming tour guides automatically receive the guide training schedules in the spring and fall. Guide training is scheduled around other activities at Vesterheim and varies in both content and timing.

The overall goal of guide training is to provide information on Norwegian-American history and Vesterheim’s exhibitions and collections, along with safety and security training, and encouragement in the art of leading tours for the museum’s visitors.

If you are interested in volunteering as a tour guide, contact Martha Griesheimer, coordinator of volunteers, at 563-382-9681 ext. 305, or mgriesheimer@vesterheim.org.