Vesterheim, Decorah, Iowa - Norwegian for “western home” - explores the diversity of American immigration through the lens of Norwegian-American experience and highlights the best in historic and contemporary Norwegian folk and fine arts.
The campus and museum, which embody the living heritage of Norwegian immigrants to America, showcase the world’s most extensive collection of Norwegian-American artifacts.
Through its collections, exhibitions, events, educational programs, publications, and tours to Norway, Vesterheim tells the story of Norwegians in America and, increasingly, the story of “Norway today.” Founded in Decorah in 1877 in conjunction with Luther College, an esteemed liberal-arts institution, Vesterheim moved in 1933 to a larger location in downtown Decorah where it occupies its own campus now featuring a collection of 12 relocated historic buildings, some of which are on the National Historic register. (Vesterheim formally separated from the college in 1964.) The museum’s campus and collections currently encompass more than 24,000 artifacts, a folk art school, a library and archives.
Vesterheim, an AAM-accredited 501(c)(3) organization, is governed by a national board of trustees with H.M. King Harald V of Norway as Honorary Chair. It has an endowment (exclusive of its collections) of approximately $5.8 million. Operating on a budget of $2 million, the museum’s 25-person staff and 300 volunteers annually host over 15,000 visitors and 2,600 students from 50 states and 35 foreign countries.