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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.

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History, Myths & Sagas

Viking culture lives on, in large part due to myths, sagas, and folklore shared throughout the centuries. At the Museum, we explore the unique myths and history you may already know and love as well as the lesser known parts of Nordic culture.

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Our Values

  • Openness: Foster trust and tolerance, and support everyone’s right to express their opinions.
  • Sustainability: Embrace a connection to nature and employ responsible practices that demonstrate respect for our environment.
  • Social Justice: Exhibit compassion, respect others, and manifest a conviction for the equal value of all people.
  • Innovation: Encourage creativity, resourcefulness, and new ways of thinking.
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Commitment to Indigenous Peoples and Cultures

The National Nordic Museum acknowledges the impact of colonialism on indigenous peoples. We celebrate the continuity of indigenous communities in the Nordic countries and North America through our exhibitions, programs, and collections, and we cultivate respectful relationships with each other through partnerships.

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Today’s Nordic World

The Nordic countries often rank among the happiest in the world. We want to help our visitors capture a bit of the hygge lifestyle for themselves. Our exhibits, programs, Store, and Freya all help capture the essence of modern Nordic living, informed by the past.

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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.

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Our History

  • 1979

    Organization Founded

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    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

  • 1980

    Opening of the Museum

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    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.

  • 2003

    Capital Campaign Launched

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    The Museum initiates a capital campaign for a new, purpose-built museum facility.

  • 2006

    Plans for a New Home

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    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.

  • 2007

    Eric Nelson Joins the Museum

    Eric Nelson joins the Nordic Museum as Executive Director/CEO.

  • 2009

    Plans Completed

    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.

  • 2018

    Grand Opening

    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.

  • 2019

    National Museum Recognition

    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.

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Enjoy all the Nordic Museum has to offer

Members get more! Get free admission to the Museum, early access to special exhibitions, and discounts to events, the Store, and Freya.

Become a Member

Further Reading

  • Board and Staff

    Learn about the Board and Staff of the museum.

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  • Mission, Vision and Values

    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.

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  • Rent the Nordic

    National Nordic Museum offers private event space, available to rent for large gatherings and small groups. All venue rentals include inventory of banquet tables and chairs, on-site staff member during event, simple house sound and lighting, and secured Wi-Fi.

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  • Annual Reports

    View National Nordic Museum’s Annual Reports

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  • Careers

    Learn about how to work at National Nordic Museum

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  • Latest 990 Form

    An overview of the National Nordic Museum's activities, governance and detailed financial information.

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