Keeper of Stories

Kirsten Heine

“Vesterheim is a keeper of stories, like an attic of memories for everyone. Without special places like Vesterheim, the memories fade—and then the stories are forgotten.”

At one of the first Vesterheim board meetings I attended when I began my Development position at the museum several years ago, I was most fortunate to hear a speech given by Jim Halls, then a Vesterheim trustee. Jim spoke passionately about the importance of planned giving, especially for institutions like Vesterheim. He shared his personal commitment with eloquence, inspiring those around him. As I sat there listening to Jim, I was touched by his dedication to planned giving, and knew that I wanted to be a part of that kind of museum! Jim’s insightfulness and understanding about planned giving had an impact on me, and that continues today. It also most certainly influenced how I approached my work in Development. Planned giving is a wonderful way to support the mission of an organization and ensure its vitality.

There are many ways to give a planned gift. For my husband and me, the best vehicle was listing Vesterheim as a beneficiary in one of our insurance policies. Vesterheim holds a special place in our hearts. We enjoy the exhibitions, linger over the words in the magazine, look forward to taking classes and traveling with the museum, treasure the people and friendships, and believe in its mission. Author Larry Woiwode wrote in an essay entitled “The Place of Memory” about the importance and significance of special places like Vesterheim. Vesterheim is a keeper of stories, like an attic of memories for everyone. Without special places like Vesterheim, the memories fade—and then the stories are forgotten. The museum not only keeps the stories alive, but ingeniously tells them through creative, engaging, and relevant programming.

The story of Norwegian immigrants is a deeply personal story for our family. It is where we find our roots. On a broader scope, though, Vesterheim brings to life the story of all immigrants. Nearly everyone in a country founded by immigrants can relate. Everyone can relate to sharing special festive food and annual holiday traditions. We can find commonalities. I believe that now, more than ever, Vesterheim’s capacity to be the place of memory is vital and important. Vesterheim can play a role in today’s conversations and be a guide. Vesterheim is a place of relevance and deserves passionate and dedicated support from all of us. I can attest—like Jim Halls did several years ago—that one of the most rewarding ways I can show my support is through a planned gift!

Menu