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“A must see for those interested in Norwegian history”
Review of Vesterheim

Ranked #1 of 23 things to do in Decorah
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Through 24,000 artifacts and 12 historic buildings, Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum shares the most comprehensive collection of Norwegian-American artifacts in the world and is a national center for folk-art classes.
SF Bay Area
Level 6 Contributor
183 reviews
46 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 154 helpful votes
“A must see for those interested in Norwegian history”
Reviewed May 22, 2014

This small museum is loaded with lots of Norwegian history and artifacts and provides a good overview of their lives in Norway, emigrating to America and their lives in America. It contains the smallest sailboat known to have sailed the Atlantic unassisted (Norway to Chicago), homes they lived in, home furnishings, old church furnishings, old guns, a section on Norwegian participation in the Civil War and WWI/WWII, skies, clothing, travel trunks, furniture, tools, kitchen and dining items, linotype and printing presses, etc. Generally it contains the kinds of things you would expect to see in a museum, but focused on Norwegian people.

At the other end of the block is a large gift shop where one can purchase souvenirs, many nice clothing items from Norway as well as the usual t-shirts, cups, etc. A couple of t-shirts were quite clever - one on the back said "Viking World Tour" and listed the countries it "visited" concluding with America, while another showed a Viking ship with the label "Very Old Navy".

A very well done museum for such a small community and one for those of Viking heritage and non-Vikings as well to enjoy.

Visited May 2014
Thank flylikeahawk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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153 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Level 5 Contributor
64 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Wonderful Norwegian Heritage Museum”
Reviewed May 19, 2014

Since our ancestors came from Norway, we celebrated Settende Mai at this museum. It was an excellent collection which we would definitely recommend and will visit again and again when we are in the area. There was a Settende Mail celebration with Nordic Dancers of all ages. Ruth was an excellent tour guide (20 yrs experience) who showed us the outside buildings and gave us lots of information about the Norwegian settlers who came in the 19th and early 20th century and contributed to the rich culture of this area. Would highly recommend to anyone, not only those of Scandinavian descent. This museum was as good as if not even better than some of the Norwegian Folk Museums we visited in Norway!

Visited May 2014
Thank Karen L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Decorah, Iowa
Level 6 Contributor
153 reviews
24 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
“There is a reason it is world famous”
Reviewed April 15, 2014

If you are interested in Norwegian American history, this is the most complete collection of artifacts and information in the world. It's notable because thousands of visitors have traveled from all over the world to see the fantastic collections and information

Visited May 2013
Thank DaveFmIA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Decorah, Iowa
Level 5 Contributor
68 reviews
36 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“Premier Norwegian-American museum”
Reviewed November 25, 2013

This museum holds many artifacts from Norwegian-American settlers in the area. They hold classes throughout the year on Norwegian handicrafts including baking ,carving, weaving, rosemaling, Hardanger embroidery and more. They have an outdoor Part of the museum also. There is also a wonderful museum store where many scandinavian imports may be purchased including the beautiful sweaters. During Nordic Fest , the last weekend in July they hold weeklong classes.

Visited June 2013
3 Thank Edie108
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Level 4 Contributor
29 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Interesting Museum Interestingly Curated.”
Reviewed November 18, 2013

Our brief visit to the Vesterheim probably doesn't do it justice and given a choice of other things to do in downtown Decorah, IA I would probably visit again. The Museum is filled with interesting artifacts of both old Norway and from the immigrant story of Norweigens here in the midwestern United States. However the displays don't do much to tell the story and are in some instances difficult to read (printing on glass). The special exhibit featuring the work of a Norweigen children's book illustrator (I've forgotten her name) was very kid friendly and nicely done. The staff person at the Museum kindly lent me her umbrella so that I might walk the 5 blocks back to fetch my car - very nice!

Visited November 2013
2 Thank Phil L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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