116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DECORAH — Vesterheim, the National Norwegian American Museum and Folk Art School, welcomes everyone to an open house for the new exhibit “Innovators & Inventors” on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. This free family event will take place outside on Vesterheim’s campus with the opportunity to view the gallery exhibit inside the Main Building. The exhibit is sponsored by the Tomson Family Foundation.
Outside in Heritage Park, there will be complimentary coffee, apple cider, and Norwegian cookies from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Guided tours of Heritage Park will be available at 1:30 p.m. and brief comments about the exhibit from Vesterheim Chief Curator Laurann Gilbertson will be given at 2:30 p.m. During the open house, a motor home from Winnebago Industries will be available on campus for viewing.
There also will be some take-away innovative goody bags for children to enjoy at the event and later at home.
Tours of the exhibit in the gallery will be self-guided with docents available to answer questions.
“Innovators & Inventors” celebrates the creativity and ingenuity of Norwegian immigrants and their descendants in America. The exhibit covers everything from Karsten Solheim’s ergonomic golf putters to the pacemaker, invented by Earl Bakken, and the motor home by Winnebago Industries.
The motor home that will be part of the open house event honors John K. Hanson, who took over a failing travel trailer business in Forest City, Iowa, in 1958 and quickly made improvements that made recreational vehicles affordable and enjoyable. Over 60 years, Winnebago Industries has produced more than 300,000 units, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, motor home sales and rentals have jumped as Americans look for safe ways to travel and enjoy the outdoors.
In addition to patents, drawings, models and artifacts, “Innovators & Inventors” shares the stories behind the creations and shines a light on some unknown Norwegian immigrants and their descendants who helped make the world a better place. The exhibit also prominently includes contemporary innovators and inventors.
Exhibit programming includes an Innovators & Inventors lecture series, also sponsored by the Tomson Family Foundation, with programs throughout the fall and winter on Zoom. Visit vesterheim.org for a full schedule and to register for the Zoom links.
Vesterheim, the National Norwegian American Museum and Folk Art School, welcomes people of all ages and backgrounds to engage in the conversation of the American immigrant journey through the lens of the Norwegian American experience. Vesterheim offers innovative and interactive exhibits, classes and programs, both at the dynamic campus and park in scenic Decorah, Iowa, and online at vesterheim.org and Vesterheim social media. For more information on exhibits, classes, programs, tours, membership opportunities, and ways to donate and volunteer, connect at vesterheim.org, (563) 382-9681, and Vesterheim, 502 W. Water St., P.O. Box 379, Decorah, IA 52101-0379.