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Current Exhibitions

Upcoming Exhibitions

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Current Exhibitions

Frederik Nielsen Pull, Twist, Blow: Transforming the Kingdom of Glass

December 13, 2013 - April 26, 2014

Pull, Twist, Blow: Transforming the Kingdom of Glass introduces the work of young, innovative Swedish glass artists. Glass is a part of everyday life for people all over the world, and in Sweden glass art is considered an institution. For many years, glass art in the country was defined by traditional techniques and patterns passed down through an apprentice system at glass factories in Glasriket (The Kingdom of Glass) in the region of Småland, where 15 of Sweden’s 16 glassworks are located. Following consolidations, buyouts, closure, and the globalization of the Swedish glass industry, new artists are interested in exploring their own artistic voices and challenging expectations of what glass should be.

The exhibition Pull, Twist, Blow: Transforming the Kingdom of Glass reveals the works of young, contemporary Swedish glass artists, how they relate to their predecessors, and how they are addressing the future of glass.

Nordic artists featured in the exhibit include Peter Hermansson, Annika Jarring, Åsa Jungnelius, Ingalena Klenell, Simon Klenell, Helena Kågebrand, Matilda Kästel, Ludvig Löfgren, Fredrik Nielsen, and Karl Magnus Nilsson.

The exhibition “sounds notes of humor, street-art swagger, gender confusion, poetic reverie and more,” according to Michael Upchurch in The Seattle Times.

In collaboration with the Glass Factory in Boda, Sweden, and specifically for this exhibition, each of the artists selected objects from the Glass Factory’s extensive collection to use as a reference to create their own original work. The pieces that served as inspiration will be displayed alongside the new works, including pieces by Monica Backström, Kjell Engman, Hertha Hillfon, Ulrica Hydman-Vallien, Erik Höglund, Vicke Lindstrand, Bengt Lindström, and Bertil Vallien.

Take home the exhibit (figuratively of course) by purchasing an exhibition catalog in the Museum Gift Shop for just $7.95.

Exhibition–Related Programs at the Museum

Thursday, December 12, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Member Preview: Members are invited to this special preview reception of the exhibition.

Karl Magnus Nilsson Thursday, February 6, 7:00 p.m.
Lecture: Walter Lieberman presents a talk on "Simply Beautiful: A History of Nordic Glass" followed by Hytsill (Hot Shop Herring), the traditional light meal that follows hot shop work in Sweden.

Saturday, February 8, 2:00 p.m.
Tour & Demo: Local artist Sonja Blomdahl leads a tour of Pull, Twist, Blow then travel to Pratt Fine Arts Center for a tour and glass-blowing demonstration.

Thursday, February 20, 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Children's Program: Kids can view the exhibition, then make their own faux glass bowl with special markers and transparency film, and watch as their creation is twisted into a new shape using heat.

Wednesday, April 9, 7:00 p.m.
Lecture: Artist Ingalena Klenell discusses her work in this talk "Future is a Long Story — About Glass, Place, and Longing."

Exhibition support is provided by
The National Endowment for the Arts Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation Washington State Arts Commission Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass 4Culture ArtsFund Seattle Office of Arts & Culture
and the Guendolen Carkeek Plestcheeff Fund for the Decorative and Design Arts.

Photos: top, work by Fredrik Nielsen; bottom a detail by Karl Magnus Nilsson.

Miniature Ships, Grand Stories Miniature Ships, Grand Stories

Currently on View

Sail the seas of years long past. From Viking burial ships to Pacific Northwest fishing boats, come explore tales of honor, lore, and amusement in this exhibition of model ships from the Nordic Heritage Museum’s permanent collection.

Since the time humans took to the seas in mighty vessels built out of ingenuity and strength, they have commemorated their sagas through the miniaturized craft and mastery of the model ship. From the modest masts to the humble bows, dual tales unfold upon beholding the scaled replicas–stories of war and wealth, might and courage, adventure and duty, all resting in the histories of the men who sailed these ships so long ago, at once brought to life by the care and consideration of a craftsperson’s impassioned labor.

Sailing the Seas of Our Heritage

Currently on View

Historian Jorgen Dahlie claimed the Nordic American immigrants who came to the United States received the message to “preserve your identity in order to be better Americans.” Today, we see evidence of Seattle’s strong connection to its Nordic roots all around us. What have we chosen to preserve from our Nordic roots? Where do we see evidence of this Nordic heritage at home, around Seattle, and in the mainstream U.S. culture?

These are some of the questions the members of the Nordic Heritage Teen Council were challenged with in January. This exhibit is a response to those difficult questions of what it means to hold on to your roots and be an American.

Upcoming Exhibitions

by Arne Jacobsen Danish Modern: Design for Living

May 16 – August 31, 2014

The exhibit will highlight the unique furnishing designed and made in Denmark during the 1950s and 1960s, including furniture, table settings, light fixtures, home electronics, and even jewelry. Visitors will be introduced to the design aesthetics and the craftsmanship that are hallmarks of these pieces, and through photographs and interpretive text, examples of architecture and graphic design will also be incorporated.

The work of Hans Wegner (1914-2007) will be featured with one of his most popular designs: the Round Chair, later known simply as “the Chair” after it gained wide popularity in televised presidential debates between Kennedy and Nixon.

The exhibition was produced by the Museum of Danish America in Elk Horn, Iowa.

Exhibition–Related Programs at the Museum:

Member Preview: Thursday, May 15, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

PechaKucha Night: Living Loving Nordic Design: Thursday, June 5, 6:00 p.m.
PechaKucha Night Seattle returns to the Museum, this time focusing on Scandinavian Design, inspired by the Danish Modern exhibit now on view. First formed in Tokyo in 2003, this 20x20 format features simple presentations of 20 images shown for 20 seconds accompanying presenters’ talks. These informal and fun gatherings have since spread around the world.

Docomomo WEWA Night: Wednesday, June 25, 7:00 p.m.
An evening of Danish design, remarks, reception, and special viewing of the exhibit Danish Modern: Design for Living. This event is co-sponsored by Docomomo WEWA, which stands for Documentation and Conservation of the Modern Movement in Western Washington, and is a local community of individuals who share a passion for Northwest Modernism. Their mission is to promote appreciation and awareness of Modern architecture and design in Western Washington through education and advocacy. $5 suggested donation.

Exhibition support is provided by Scan | Design Foundation by Inger & Jens Bruun, American-Scandinavian Foundation, 4Culture, Artsfund, and the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.

Image: Egg chair and ottoman by Arne Jacobsen, designed in 1958. Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art

by Tod Gangler The Color of Time: Ballard from Dusk to Dawn

September 19 – November 16, 2014

Tod Gangler’s newest body of photographic work is a collection of views and visions of Ballard as it appears in the 21st century. He captures Ballard at all times of day, encompassing various notions of time, from hours to seasons and years. This extensive exhibition will showcase Gangler’s photography, which is simultaneously fleeting and fixed, providing multiple dimensions of particular places.

Odin’s Eye

October 10 – November 9, 2014

In conjunction with the annual Taste of Iceland in Seattle event, the Museum will host the exhibition Odin’s Eye. The exhibit seeks to build an inspirational bridge between Americans and Icelanders as artists visually interpret the Norse Mythology. Organized by Iceland Naturally, Taste of Iceland is an annual October showcase of the music, cuisine, and art of Iceland in Seattle, a sister city to Reykjavik. Stay tuned for the 2014 dates, which are curently being finalized.

by Tod Gangler Imaging the Arctic
Maria Coryell-Martin, Kristin Laidre & Finnish photographer Tiina Itkonen

December 12, 2014 – February 22, 2015

This interdisciplinary exhibit explores the impact of climate change on West Greenland’s ecology and culture through the work of three women: marine mammal biologist Dr. Kristin Laidre, expeditionary artist Maria Coryell-Martin, and Finnish photographer Tiina Itkonen.

The exhibit will center around the impact of climate change in the Arctic and sea ice loss on narwhals and polar bears. These iconic species of the Arctic are highly adapted to the extreme polar environment, and are also an integral part of Greenlandic culture as subsistence resources.

In the spring of 2013, Coryell-Martin accompanied Dr. Laidre to West Greenland where she created a collection of field art and stories about scientific research in the Arctic environment. Itkonen’s evocative photographs of the Greenland landscape and Inuit add an additional perspective on the rhythm of life in the Arctic.

Image: watercolor of Kullorsuaq, Greenland by Maria Coryell-Martin

Permanent Exhibitions

The First Floor
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.

The Second Floor
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 Folk Art Galleries 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
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.

Past Exhibitions

Tree of Life Eino – 50 Years of Making Sculptures

September 27 - December 8, 2013

Finnish artist Eino Romppanen marked 2013 as his 50th year of work as a stone sculptor, and this exhibition celebrated his work and career. Eino Romppanen, known to the art world simply as Eino, was born in Finland and has lived and worked in the United States since 1962. Over these years, Eino has worked in 22 countries and his commissioned works can be found in all five Nordic countries, including the Stockholm Stadium, once host to the Olympic Games. Throughout his 50 years as an artist, Eino has explored various forms of expression, ranging from bronze and marble portraits to abstract monoliths to solar-powered sculpture that silently rotates.

Focusing primarily on Eino’s stone sculptures, the exhibition at the Nordic Heritage Museum provided a window into the development of Eino’s formal and thematic repertoire, his preoccupation with the relationship between nature and culture, human body and landscape, as well as his exploration of sculptural form.

Dressing Swedish Dressing Swedish: From Hazelius to Salander

September 13 – November 10, 2013

This exhibit explored the complex relationship between fashion and traditional folk costumes. Garments, fabric, and designs are used to create complex family trees, erase time periods, and articulate multiple places of belonging. Through displays featuring costumes both traditional and re-created by contemporary designers, along with new urban dress from Sami and Swedish designers, the exhibition tackled the notion of what it means to “dress Swedish” and how this has developed over time.

Pieces from the Nordic Heritage Museum permanent collection, such as Swedish folk costumes, Ballard bunads, and textile artifacts, also accompanied the exhibition. In addition, local members of the Swedish community showcased outfits that reflect individual and contemporary ways of dressing Swedish and Svenska Skolan (Seattle’s Swedish School for children) showed off Pippi Longstocking costumes.

The exhibit was produced for House of Sweden, Washington D.C. for the Migration and Globalization theme, and co-curated by Dr. Charlotte Hyltén-Cavallius, Multicultural Society in Tumba, Sweden, and Dr. Lizette Gradén, Nordic Heritage Museum.

Exhibition support was provided by:
The Jane Isakson Lea Foundation, The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, Swedish Council of America, 4Culure, ArtsFund, and the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.

Inspired by Nordic fashion, clothing designer Mira Bonell held a photoshoot of her Svart Sol colthing collection. View some of the photographs by Manuela Insixiengmay and more information here.

by Per Magnus Gjerde Ørnulf Opdahl - Mood Paintings of the North

June 28 – September 1, 2013

Ørnulf Opdahl is Norway’s most distinguished contemporary landscape painter, and one of the most noteworthy artists working in the Nordic countries today. Opdahl’s works are distinctly influenced by the dramatic west coast of Norway. He lives and works on the island of Godøy, which, like the Pacific Northwest, is marked by contrasts in elevation, transitory weather, and ephemeral light. The landscape of the Sunmøre Mountains and nearby fjords informs his work and reflects his knowledge and affinity for his surroundings: the glaciers, the trails around the fjords, and dramatic cliff faces.

His approach to landscape work is meditative, and his subdued palate conveys a sense of the atmospheric; paintings of colossal mountains and deep fjords are rendered expressively in shades of grays and charcoal black, bringing to the viewer a sense of proximity and radiance.

Read a review by Michael Upchurch in The Seattle Times

Exhibition support was provided by:
Synnøve Fielding, Erik Breivik, 4Culure, The American-Scandinavian Foundation, ArtsFund, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, and the Sons of Norway Foundation.

Photo by Per Magnus Gjerde.

Fishing for the Russians Fishing for the Russians: Marine Resources Company 1978-1989

May 21 – August 25, 2013

During the last decades of the Cold War, American trawlers - including many from the Norwegian-American fishing community centered in Seattle – delivered huge quantities of bottom fish to Soviet processing vessels operating under the auspices of US-USSR Marine Resources Company (MRC) in US waters off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, California, and Alaska. This exhibit presented a short history of this unique joint fishing venture.

by Lasse Berre Scissors for a Brush

March 22 - June 16, 2013

Using just scissors and paper as her tools, Danish-Norwegian artist Karen Bit Vejle has created a stunning, multi-faceted world where design, detail, and wonder meet. Psaligraphy — the art of paper cutting — is an art form that takes painstaking patience and concentration. Bit Vejle’s works are formed from a large, continuous piece of paper that is folded one, two, and three times, and then cut using only a pair of scissors. Every single scissor cut is carefully planned, as the slightest mistake can have disastrous consequences for the finished result.

Exhibition curator Sissel Guttormsen says, “Her magical cuttings are rooted in a tradition that has known a long journey through history. But she has created a personal style and technique that are entirely her own. For more than 35 years she has been absorbed, fascinated, and deeply committed to this art form that developed from small, simple snowflakes to unusually large and highly complex image cuttings. She is one of very few in Europe who can cut at such an advanced technical and artistic level.” Watch an interview with Karen Bit Vejle about the exhibition.

In addition, alongside Bit Vejle’s work, the exhibition featured four original paper cuts by Hans Christian Andersen on loan from the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense, Denmark.

View a guide to the exhibition, with information about each piece featured in the show.

Exhibition support was provided by:
Scan|Design Foundation by Inger & Jens Bruun, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, 4Culture, Washington State Arts Commission, Norwegian Association for Arts and Crafts, and Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Birch Painting Bad Art? 1,000 Birch Board Pictures from Sweden

November 30, 2012 – March 3, 2013

The Birchwood plaques featured in this visiting exhibition from the Backlund & Håkansson Collection in Sweden represent a ubiquitous form of folk art from unknown origins in northern Europe. Sold as tourist souvenirs for more than a century, these humble objects have spread around the world. The mixed-media paintings represent a cultural heritage about to be lost, an alternative aesthetic tradition of newly urbanized people, and they mirror the modest dreams of those who rarely traveled but took pride in documenting the few journeys they made.

This exhibition challenged notions of what makes fine art vs. popular art, bad taste vs. good taste. What expressions of human creativity can be called art? Who decides, and does it matter?

View the exhibition catalog online here.

Exhibition support was provided by:
Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, 4Culture, Arts Fund, The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, and Västra Götaland Region.

Tore Hansen The Impression of Amundsen: Roald Amundsen’s South Pole Expedition 1910–1912

January 18 – March 3, 2013

Roald Amundsen’s personal diary from the South Pole expedition of 1910–1912 was published for the first time in 2010, shedding new light on this historic expedition. His diary also provided the inspiration for a new exhibition of paintings and graphic works from three prominent Norwegian artists: Tore Hansen, Ulf Nilsen, and Håvard Vikhagen. The artists were invited by the Fram Museum in Oslo and Norwegian publishing company ART PRO AS to read Amundsen’s diary and create artworks inspired by the experience. The resulting exhibition is a fresh perspective on Amundsen and his amazing expedition.

Exhibition support was provided by:
Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, 4Culture, Arts Fund, Royal Norwegian Consulate General, and Norwegian.com.

To me there’s no other choice — Raoul Wallenberg 1912-2012
Raoul Wallenberg
December 4, 2012 – January 13, 2013

This exhibition was produced by the Swedish Institute on behalf of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs in collaboration with the Forum for Living History, and shined a light on the story of Wallenberg, a Swedish businessman and diplomat who saved thousands of from the Nazi extermination camps during the final stages of WWII. According to Stina Mansfeld, exhibition content producer, "It is an attempt to portray the man behind a heroic myth. And to explore the moral and existential lessons where we all can learn from his life and choices.”

Exhibition support was provided by:
Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, 4Culture, Arts Fund, and the The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation.

Eight Seasons in Sápmi, the Land of the Sámi People
photo by Birgitte Aarestrup
August 31 through November 4, 2012

Eight Seasons in Sápmi, the Land of the Sámi People, was a multi-layered exhibition which explored the rich culture of the Sámi, the indigenous population of northern Europe. The exhibit was a collaborative effort featuring more than 40 photographs by Danish-American photographer Birgitte Aarestrup; artifacts, text, and photographs illustrating Sámi history, traditional life, reindeer herding, and oral tradition from Ájtte, the Swedish Mountain and Sami Museum; and Sámi handicrafts, known as Duodji, from the collections of Sámi Duodji, the Sámi Handicraft Foundation.

Exhibition support was provided by:
Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, 4Culture, Arts Fund, the Swedish Council of America, The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, and by Jokkmokk Municipality, Norrbotten County Council, and the Swedish Arts Council.

Diverse Landscapes of Iceland
Photography by Bill Stafford

October 2 – November 11, 2012

The Iceland experience includes waterfalls, fiords, fishing villages, volcanic activity, and urban Reykjavik. Bill Stafford took viewers on a photographic adventure, presenting the diversity and beauty of contemporary Iceland.

Fabulous Iceland: From Sagas to Novels
Portraits of Contemporary Icelandic Authors

October 12 – November 8, 2012

Iceland’s rich narrative tradition dates back to the Middle Ages and is often apparent in contemporary Icelandic literature. Through a series of interviews, journalist Pétur Blöndal asked 23 contemporary Icelandic authors to describe their relationships with Icelandic literary traditions and the influence these traditions have on their work. The result is an Icelandic literary history, distilled into individual short stories and coupled with portraits taken by photographer Kristinn Ingvarsson.

Eero Saarinen: A Reputation for Innovation
Eero Saarinen Chair
May 25 through August 19, 2012

One of the 20th century’s most prolific architects, Eero Saarinen built some of the most iconic buildings of his time, including the TWA Terminal at New York’s JFK Airport, Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C., and the St. Louis Arch.

Guest curated by Mina Marefat, architectural historian and professor at Georgetown University, the exhibition provided a visually rich overview of Saarinen’s key architectural projects and timeless furniture pieces. The exhibition was augmented by a rich array of photographs and documents that chronicle his childhood in Finland to his life in America. The exhibition highlighted the principles which guided Saarinen’s work, confirming his lasting values and a renewed relevance of his work for the present generation.

Exhibition support was provided by:
Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, 4Culture, Arts Fund, AIA Seattle, Docomomo WEMA, Finlandia Foundation, Finn Spark, Finnish American Chamber of Commerce, Inform Interiors, and Knoll.

Borders at the Nordic Heritage Museum
Sculptures by Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir and Photos by Murray Head
Vision II
June 6 - August 28, 2012

Icelandic sculptor Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir was featured in two cross-town exhibitions. Stretching throughout Westlake Park for the entire summer, the installation Borders consisted of 26 life-size androgynous human figure sculptures, 13 made using aluminum and 13 made of cast iron.

Coinciding with the installation at Westlake Park was Borders at the Nordic Heritage Museum, an exhibition of smaller figures by Thórarinsdóttir and photographs by Murray Head of the exhibition when New York City hosted Borders in 2011.

Exhibition support was provided by:
Seattle Parks and Recreation, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, and The Roosevelt Hotel.
With Special Thanks to: Iceland Naturally, Seattle-Reykjavik Sister City Assc., Scott White Contemporary, Icelandair, Eimskip Shipping, and the Consul General of Iceland in New York City and the Icelandic Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Image credit: Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir, Vision II, 2005, cast iron and glass. Photo: Arnaldur Halldorsson.

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