The Nordic Heritage Museum is in a 1907 red brick school building that was originally Daniel Webster Elementary School. Located in Ballard, the heart of Seattle’s Scandinavian community, Webster School educated generations of Scandinavian and other immigrant children who came to this region, including many of our own volunteers. Webster School closed in 1979 due to a sharp decline in student enrollment throughout Seattle. The Nordic Heritage Museum opened in this building in 1980.
The Dream of America is the story of immigration told in an exhibit of life-like dioramas. Travel with your family back to the nineteenth-century Scandinavian countryside to begin the journey to America, starting with the move to the city. The voyage continues as you board a ship to make the Atlantic crossing, and land at Ellis Island. The adventure goes on to experiences in New York, and the expansion to the Midwest, Great Plains, and Pacific Northwest, ending in Ballard. Here the growth and development of a typical small Northwest community is displayed, complete with a post office, church, drug store, blacksmith shop, and a family home. For more information, visit the Dream of America page.
The Promise of the Northwest includes two galleries that focus on the logging and fishing industries, which employed many immigrants who brought skills learned in the old country. These galleries show the contributions of the Nordic pioneers to the settlement of the Pacific Northwest. The Heritage Rooms display treasured and useful items the immigrants brought with them, including folk costumes, textiles, tools, and furniture. Temporary art, history, and heritage exhibits are housed in the three galleries at the west end of the hall. Visit the Current Exhibitions page for current exhibitions.
The third floor exhibitions illustrate the differences and the common bonds among the Scandinavian people. There is one gallery for each of the five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Each gallery highlights that group’s special achievements in the Pacific Northwest. There is also a small gallery on the south side of the building which houses temporary exhibits. Visit the Current Exhibitions page for current exhibitions. For more information on the third floor, visit the Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden pages.
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