Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum has roots that go back to the 1800s and a collection of artifacts that was first formed at Luther College in Decorah. Those items became the roots for what is now the most extensive collection of Norwegian American Artifacts (33,000 and counting!) in the World.
On today’s show, we talk with Vesterheim President and CEO Chris Johnson about the old and new of Vesterheim, as well as his roots to NE Iowa and life long connections to Decorah.
Norway's US Ambassador Kåre Aas & Vesterheim's Chris Johnson
Vesterheim encompasses not just an amazing collection of artifacts though, it is also home to a beautiful outdoor campus, an amazing Folk Art School with classes for all ages, a research library and archive. Simply put, Vesterheim is not just a museum or destination, but a community of members from across the World who recognize the immigrant experience and importance of immigrant stories to our culture.
The “Strong Roots, Bold Future” Campaign has been the work and vision of many involved with Vesterheim to continue making not only a fantastic destination, but also re-think how Vesterheim can continue to reach new audiences near and far through online programming, and interactive opportunities. The five pillars of the campaign include:
- Grow the campus around a new, world-class gathering and exhibit addition;
- Connect the historic collection with contemporary art and social movements;
- Expand the digital reach of the folk art / collection, enrichment opportunities;
- Engage audiences from near and far, and of every background searching for meaningful cultural experiences;
- Draw people together into community, both in person and virtually to share stories of their journeys.
Exciting outcomes of this project have already included the reconstruction of Vesterheim’s outdoor campus as “Heritage Park” – a beautiful outdoor setting connecting the historic structures of the campus. And the new “Vesterheim Commons” building which will act as the new “front door” and meeting place to the Museum and so much more.
We can’t thank Chris enough for taking the time talk with us today to share his stories and vision for Vesterheim.
Find out more about Vesterheim, see virtual galleries, class offerings, become a member, or donate and support the museum by visiting vesterheim.org
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