The internationally recognized Nordic Heritage Museum, located in Seattle, Washington, was founded to discuss, preserve, and share the history and artwork of five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. This cultural center, community gathering place and art museum hosts classes and concerts, organizes festivals and exhibits historical collections and is the only museum of its kind in the United States.
Located in the in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, Washington by Marianne Forssblad, the Nordic Heritage Museum has been educating about the history and culture of the Nordic countries and culture since 1980. They have been housed in the same red brick building, which was originally an elementary school built in 1907, since their inception but they are currently fundraising for a new larger building closer to the downtown area in the same neighborhood. Currently, Eric Nelson directs the Nordic Heritage Museum, with Lizette Graden as chief curator. Irma Goertzen is president.
The Nordic Heritage Museum features 3 permanent exhibitions - The Dream of America, The Promise of the Northwest, and National Identity Galleries: The Nordic Countries.
The Dream of America tells the story of how the Nordic people emigrated to the United States. Using lifelike dioramas (three-dimensional models), this exhibit walks visitors through the journey from their country of origin (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, or Sweden), across the Atlantic Ocean by boat, through entering and passing through Ellis Island and explains how those original immigrants ended up settling in the Pacific Northwest (including their journey through New York and the Midwest). It also shows a typical community as originally settled with historical accuracy - featuring blacksmiths, drugstores, a family home, and places of worship.
The Promise of the Northwest is actually two galleries - one focusing on the logging industry and the other on the fishing industry, the two major sources of income for the original Nordic immigrants. Both galleries visually examine how the Pacific Northwest was changed and improved by the skills that these immigrants brought with them from their original country of origin. It also features a Folk-Art Gallery with unique and historical furniture, outfits, textiles, and tools to show what life was like in the beginning of these communities.
National Identity Galleries: The Nordic Countries serves to show the special skills and achievements that each of the five Nordic Countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) have added to the Pacific Northwest. It also helps show both the common bonds as well as the differences between each country’s immigrants as individuals and as a single Nordic community. Each country has its own room and features artwork and displays specific to that place of origin.
In addition to the 3 permanent exhibits, there are also two libraries (including books and music) and a permanent collection of over 75,000 materials and items specific to the journey Nordic immigrants took from their country to the Pacific Northwest.
The Nordic Heritage Museum offers guided school tours through The Dream of America exhibit with props and role-play to engage groups of 10 to 30 schoolchildren and bring history alive. For every 6 students, there will need to be one school provided chaperone. The museum also offers self-guided school tours with a scavenger hunt through all three floors for more independent student learners. The guided school tours require reservations two weeks in advance.
There are also child and family specific events to educate and entertain children using Nordic books, folklore and play acting.
Events are a huge part of the community that the Nordic Heritage Museum is promoting in the Seattle area. From monthly events like book talks, dance classes, movie nights, and storytelling to annual events like the Nordic Knitting Conference, Yulefest in November (a Nordic Christmas celebration) and Viking Days in August, there is something for everyone. The building is also available for rent to host meetings, receptions, weddings, and other special events. The website is updated frequently with all events including dates, times, and costs (if any) as there are events nearly every week.
Dining and Shopping
There is a small museum store/gift shop available during regular museum hours selling Nordic themed gifts like books, flags, kitchen ware, jewelry, and treats. They also feature gifts relating to many of the special exhibits. They do not offer a cafe.
3014 NW 67th Street, Seattle, WA 98117, Phone: 206-789-5707