Youth Programs

Vesterheim Youth Programs

Youth and Family Classes

Youth and Family Classes

Folk Art School

We’re excited to take creative young minds on an adventure, exploring traditional Scandinavian folk arts and language through after school and weekend classes in Vesterheim’s Folk Art School. Class options include rosemaling, fiber arts, woodworking, blacksmithing, and Norwegian language and culture.

Vesterheim’s Youth and Family Classes give young people a chance to be creative, have fun, meet new friends, and start a life-long love for folk art. All of the instructors are experts in their craft and have experience working with young people.

Find complete info, dates, cost, and registration options here!

Barnetimen (Children’s Hour)


(Children's Hour)

Youth Programs Barnetimen People Kids

Barnetimen (Children’s Hour) is a free, monthly program for preschoolers and their caregivers where exploration and creativity are encouraged! Spend the hour with Vesterheim’s Youth Educator Jennifer Kovarik, connecting to Vesterheim’s collection in fun and interesting ways to be inspired to create art. A snack is included.

Barnetimen meets the third Tuesday of the month, September through April, from 10 to 11 a.m. and is geared toward 3-5 year olds, but all ages are welcome. The program is free of charge and no previous sign-up is necessary—come to one session or all of them. Meet at Vesterheim’s Main Building and then head to the museum’s Westby-Torgerson Education Center down the block for an art project and snack.

The program is free thanks to sponsors David and Brenda Carlson, Amy and Keith Bruening, Greg and Karen Bruening, and Norwegian Mutual Insurance Association.

For information about Barnetimen, please contact Jennifer Kovarik, Vesterheim Youth Educator, 563-382-9681 ext. 219,

2019 and 2020 Themes and Dates

September 17, 2019 – Boats
October 15, 2019 – Favorite Things
November 19, 2019 – Tell Your Story
December 17, 2019 – Celebrations
January 21, 2020 – Food
February 18, 2020- Hearts
March 17, 2020- Crowns
April 21, 2020- Nisse

Pioneer Immersion Program

Pioneer Immersion Program

and Exhibit of Projects

Vesterheim’s Pioneer Immersion Program is an innovative cooperative effort between the museum and area schools.

The Pioneer Immersion Program uses the Norwegian-American experience as a jumping-off point for exploring the experiences of other immigrant groups during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Students use artifacts, archival materials, and hands-on activities to gain a better understanding of what it meant for immigrants to journey from their homelands and establish new lives in America in the past and how that experience compares to those of immigrants today.

The program includes instruction in the school classrooms and a series of Vesterheim visits in which students explore the museum and participate in several pioneer activities.

Prior to their visits to the museum, the students create immigrant identities for themselves, using immigrant diaries, documents, and other sources. The students record their impressions and thoughts in their own journals as they take part in packing an immigrant trunk, constructing a “log” home, and completing a series of typical chores.

Along with their journals, students create projects related to immigrant experiences and pioneer history, and they often enlist the help of parents, grandparents, and other family and friends in doing so, making it a valuable intergenerational experience. Students have a week-long exhibition of their projects and journals at Vesterheim each May.

The Pioneer Immersion Program is the optimal blend of object-based learning, national education standards, local curricula, and fun. The teachers and museum staff begin with the common goal of providing student-centered activities, and the result has been positive and engaging concrete experiences that facilitate critical thinking and creativity.

The program is funded in 2020 by Voltmer Electric, Gerad Voltmer, with addition support from Richard and Barbara Amundson, Joann Voltmer, and Ruth Ann Schultz.

For more information about the Vesterheim Pioneer Immersion Program and how your school can participate, please contact Jennifer Kovarik, Vesterheim Youth Educator, 563-382-9681, ext. 219,

Window on the World

WOW (Window on the World)


The WOW Program, which developed in partnership between Vesterheim and the Decorah Community Schools, helps students understand change over time through the exploration of historic agricultural tools and processes. The program features intergenerational hands-on activities and discovery.

Area third graders and their parent or grandparent guests use nineteenth-century agricultural technology and machinery to press apples, make rope, shell corn, and hand-thresh grain. They also learn about Decorah’s past through study of historic photographs and hunt to find tools in the museum’s Painter-Bernatz Mill.

The program is funded through 2020 by Gundersen Health System.
Gundersen HealthSystem’s support of this program is significant because the funding ensures that each year over 150 area third graders and their families will have access to meaningful and fun learning experiences that support and enhance the school curriculum.

For more information about the program, please contact Jennifer Kovarik, Vesterheim Youth Educator, 563-382-9681 ext. 219,