Decorah’s Vesterheim Museum has an extensive collection of artifacts

To see the most extensive collection of Norwegian-American artifacts in the world, you don’t have to travel farther than Decorah, home of the Vesterheim National Norwegian-American Museum and Folk Art School.

“What makes Vesterheim special is our long connection to art and history in America,” said Paul Gilbert, Marketing Director at Vesterheim.

Norwegian Americans began collecting and preserving objects at Luther College in Decorah in 1877 to document their chapter of the immigrant story, “making them pioneers in the preservation of cultural diversity in America,” said Gilbert. From that collection, the museum was born — now a not-for-profit museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums that contains more than 33,000 artifacts.

The most extensive collection of Norwegian-American artifacts in the world is located in Decorah, home of the Vesterheim National Norwegian-American Museum.

The museum includes the Main Building, Heritage Park (which houses 12 historic buildings that came from across the Midwest and Norway), a library and archives. The Main Building features four floors filled with artifacts that tell the story of the immigrants who came from Norway to start a life in America.

“When you visit, spend some time in the Selland Home (second floor of the museum),” Gilbert said. “It’s a log cabin that was built in 1853 north of Decorah. It’s amazing to see how they lived over 160 years ago.” He also suggested checking out the one-of-a-kind Hardanger fiddle on the third floor. You’ll even find a boat that crossed the Atlantic Ocean.

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