Join Vesterheim Online to Celebrate Heritage Park Groundbreaking

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Posted: May 28, 2020


Becky Idstrom, Communications and Marketing Manager  •  563-382-9681

For Immediate Release


May 28, 2020


Join Vesterheim Online to Celebrate Heritage Park Groundbreaking

DECORAH, Iowa — Join Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center, on Facebook (facebook.vesterheimmuseum) to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Heritage Park project with a live stream ceremony on Friday, June 5, at 1:00 p.m. The Heritage Park project will transform Vesterheim’s campus into an educational, interpretive, and public outdoor space in downtown Decorah. When completed, the museum’s unique collection of 12 historical buildings will be displayed within a fully accessible, landscaped park that will include gentle glades and a community amphitheater.

“Vesterheim’s Heritage Park Project is the first step in the museum’s plan to continue uniting cultures, generations, and communities in new, exciting ways,” Chris Johnson, Vesterheim’s President/CEO explained. “And how better to begin than by creating a public space where Vesterheim patrons, Decorah residents, and visitors to our town can relax, learn, and join together in a tranquil park-like setting?” Johnson added.

During Friday’s online event, museum staff Chris Johnson, Jennifer Kovarik, and Martha Griesheimer will give a brief tour of the park to view the construction progress and share some of the plans for reinterpreting the space for visitors. Johnson will launch the project using a ceremonial shovel painted by Sally Stromseth, the instructor for the museum’s popular “Rosemaling Klubb” for youth. A video of the event will be posted on YouTube later at youtube.VesterheimMuseum.

The park was designed by Damon Farber, the award-winning landscape architectural firm from Minneapolis, Minnesota, in partnership with Snøhetta, the renowned international architecture and landscape architecture firm with offices in New York City and Oslo. Heritage Park is part of an overall Master Site Plan created for Vesterheim by Snøhetta.

The primary contractor for the project is 2nd Nature Landscaping, Bloomington, Minnesota, and other contractors include Skyline Construction, Inc., Wicks Construction, Perry Novak Electric, and Stevenson Tree Care, all of Decorah.

This project has been made possible by a grant from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, with additional support from the Paul D. Pratt & Marguerite Olson Pratt Fund of InFaith Community Foundation and from Kate Nelson Rattenborg. The landscape will incorporate many environmentally sensitive elements, thanks to a grant from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Water Quality Initiative (WQI) Urban Conservation Project. Vesterheim has also received funding from Winneshiek County Community Foundation for interpretive signs.

Work on Heritage Park will continue through this summer and be completed in the fall. Vesterheim is currently closed through June 30 as a response to COVID-19. Further schedule adjustments due to either the Heritage Park work or COVID-19 will be announced when available.

Through 33,000 objects and 12 historic buildings, Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center in Decorah, Iowa, shares the most comprehensive collection of Norwegian-American artifacts in the world. This treasure is also a center for folk-art education, offering a wide variety of classes in authentic Norwegian folk art every year. For more information on the museum’s exhibitions, classes, events, membership opportunities, and ways to donate, check Vesterheim’s website at, call (563) 382-9681, or write to Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, 502 W. Water St., P.O. Box 379, Decorah, IA, 52101-0379.