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Decorah, Iowa

Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum

Most comprehensive museum in America devoted to one ethnic group. 

Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum is a museum that explores Norwegian immigration to America and the experience of Norwegian settlers in the upper Midwestern United States. It is the most comprehensive museum in America that is devoted to one ethnic group.

On display at the museum, visitors can find exhibits on historic and contemporary Norwegian folk and fine arts. Visitors can also enjoy classes in Norwegian culture and folk art, including rosemaling (decorative painting), woodcarving and woodworking, knifemaking, and textile arts.

With 16 historic buildings in its main complex, which occupies most of a square block in downtown Decorah, Iowa, and two National Register sites just outside the city, Vesterheim houses over 24,000 artifacts, including large samplings from the fine, decorative, and folk arts, and the tools and machinery of early agriculture, lumbering, and other immigrant industries.

Every July, Vesterheim and the city of Decorah host Nordic Fest, a three- or four-day festival celebrating Scandinavian heritage. During this time Vesterheim is host to a number of craft workshops, art fairs, and other Scandinavian activities.