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Decorah, Iowa: Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum

33,000 artifacts in 12 buildings. The most extensive collection of Norwegian-American artifacts in the world -- saved by Norwegian-Iowa farmers who never threw anything away.

520 W. Water St., Decorah, IA
North end of downtown, on the north side of W. Water St. between N. Mill and N. Mechanic Sts.
Summer daily 9-5; winter 10-4 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Adults $10.
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Norway -- just like we imagine it.

Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum

Extremely impressive collection spans over 300 years, with a focus on Norwegian rural and religious life, as well as emigration. Displays range from the mundane homemade stirring sticks of housewives to the carved altars of Lutheran churches. Many of the artifacts were given by Luther College, and various paintings by Norwegian-American artists have been purchased by the museum. Herbjrn Gausta is given a special focus.

For those hoping to see ornate drinking horns, they are unfortunately currently on loan as part of various traveling exhibits. The other buildings are scattered on a walkway behind the main museum building, and each has a plaque explaining the recreation.

[Harmon, 06/15/2023]

Smallest vessel known to cross the Atlantic.

Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum

I didn't see 16 buildings, but the one they had in 2021 was very cool. Contains the smallest vessel known to cross the Atlantic, several examples of furniture made by the settlers, and trunks used when immigrating. Plus much more. The souvenir stop next door offers Norwegian-themed gifts.

[Clark W, 05/12/2021]

Norse living.

Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum

A complex of 16 buildings, Vesterheim is the country's largest museum dedicated to one single ethnic immigrant group. Like lefse, lutefisk, and rosemaling? Come to Decorah to find out! Beautiful town; wonderful collection of antique folk art.

[Dino Maniaci, 05/22/2004]

Decorah is also the site of the Nordic Fest -- last weekend in July, every year since 1966. Troll walks, hooked rug exhibits, silly hats. May, 2021: Photo added.

Nearby Offbeat Places

Viking with PieViking with Pie, Decorah, IA - < 1 mi.
Ice Cave - Frozen in SummerIce Cave - Frozen in Summer, Decorah, IA - < 1 mi.
Bily Clocks MuseumBily Clocks Museum, Spillville, IA - 11 mi.
In the region:
Two-Headed Calf, Padlock of Viking Leif Ericson, Fountain, MN - 35 mi.

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