The Nordic Heritage Museum is located in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle and is considered by locals to be the heart of the Scandinavian community. The museum was founded in 1980 and is dedicated to the heritage of Seattle's Nordic immigrants such as the Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish Americans. The museum serves as a community-gathering place and shares Nordic culture by exhibiting art and objects, preserving antique collections, and providing educational and cultural experiences.
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.
On the first floor of the museum is the Dream of America exhibition. It is the story of immigration told in an exhibit of life-like dioramas. Visitors can travel with 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.
On the second floor of the facility is the Promise of the Northwest, which includes two galleries that focus on the logging and fishing industries that 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.
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.
The entrance is on 68th Street between 30th and 32nd Avenues North West and the museum is accessible by Metro bus #17, which stops on 32nd Avenue. There is plenty of free and handicapped parking for cars and tour buses in our parking lot in front of the museum.
Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. The museum is closed on all Mondays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. Admission is $6 for adults and tour prices are available upon request.