About the Museum
The National Nordic Museum shares Nordic culture, values, and ideas with people of all ages and backgrounds to create connections, generate dialogue, and inspire new perspectives.
Founded in 1979, the National Nordic Museum is the only institution of its size and scale in the United States to present the history and culture of the entire Nordic region (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the regions of the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Åland, and the cultural region of Sápmi) and the legacy of Nordic immigrants to the United States.
Located along Seattle’s working waterfront in an iconic building that embodies Nordic design, the institution is both a museum and a community gathering place.
Celebrating the Nordic life, art, and culture from the past to the present
Shared Nordic values and perspectives serve as guiding principles for the core exhibition experience, tracing Nordic themes of connection to nature, sustainability, social justice, and innovation from the earliest anthropological records through contemporary Nordic society.
Our Story: How the National Nordic Museum came to be
The Nordic Museum was founded in 1979 to honor the legacy of thousands of Nordic immigrants who came to the Northwest at the turn of the 20th century. The Museum opened to the public in 1980 as the Nordic Heritage Museum leasing space in the historic Webster School in Seattle neighborhood of Ballard. It was the only museum in North America to represent the five Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.
2018 marked a historic milestone when the renamed Nordic Museum opened a brand new purpose-built 57,875 square feet facility in the heart of Ballard on Seattle’s working waterfront. The Museum’s achievements were acknowledged in 2019 when the Museum was designed as the National Nordic Museum by an act of congress.
In its icon building that embodies Nordic design, the institution functions both as a museum and a community gathering place. The National Nordic Museum presents values-based exhibitions and programs that are grounded in Nordic values and invites a diverse audience to celebrate history and culture, providing a forum to expand dialogue that inspires new ways of thinking.
The organization is founded to honor the legacy of thousands of Nordic immigrants who came to the Northwest at the turn of the 20th century
The Museum opens to the public in the historic Webster School in Ballard as the only museum in North America to represent the culture and art from the five Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.
The Museum initiates a capital campaign for a new, purpose-built museum facility.
Project planning for the new building begins in earnest with the Museum hosting community engagement receptions to orient the community to the Museum’s plans for the future, collect their input and generate support.
Eric Nelson joins the Nordic Museum as Executive Director/CEO.
The Museum’s conceptual plans for the new facility are completed, and the Museum’s board and staff embark on a journey to design and build a new facility with the space, location, and stature to engage future generations.
The grand opening of the Museum’s new facility in the heart of Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood occurs on May 5. The opening celebration includes remarks from the President of Iceland, HRH the Crown Princess of Denmark, Swedish Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter, and the Mayor of Seattle, Jenny Durkan.
In a ceremony attended by Senator Maria Cantwell of Seattle, and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the Museum is officially recognized as the National Nordic Museum by an Act of Congress.