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A Look Back at the Last Year of Construction


Written August 02, 2017

It was an outdoor celebration on a sunny summer day. We'd spent the morning preparing, shuttling over 400 guests from our current facility to the site of the new building.

To kick off the program, the Norwegian Male Chorus and the Norwegian Women's Chorus performed pieces from each Nordic country. Board of Trustees President Irma Goertzen spoke, as well as Senator Reuven Carlyle and Mayor Ed Murray. We toasted our volunteers, our donors, and our wonderful, supportive community — and officially broke ground on the project we've all spent years planning!

On March 17, 2017, we held a Topping Out ceremony!

A "Topping Out" is a traditional Scandinavian ceremony meant to give thanks for the timber (or in our case, steel!) used to construct the building. This is a tradition that's been adopted by American steel workers, so our construction crew was excited to perform it with us! They welded the five Nordic flags and placed a small evergreen on top of the beam. The tree will be planted in the new Museum's garden; the flags were sold at the Northern Lights Auktion.

Now, one year into our journey...

We're proud to say that the Museum is well on its way to completion! The building will be completed in December 2017, with the Grand Opening planned for the first weekend in May 2018. In terms of our immediate future, the roofing is complete and we look forward to finishing the zinc siding along Market Street by the end of August. The drywall is currently being hung, and rooms are beginning to take shape!

In December, we will take possession of the building, at which time work will begin on the fabrication and installation of the Museum's core exhibition and the build-out of the café and offices — an intricate and exciting process that will carry us all the way through April 2018!

Want to keep track of the Museum's progress?

We'll be posting updates to our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, so be sure to follow us! For the latest drone footage, check out our YouTube channel.

Campaign Update

Thanks to the Museum's generous and supportive community, the Capital Campaign is progressing steadily. Against the total project budget of $47 million, we only have a little more than $5 million left to raise!

As any runner knows, the last lap of a race is the most important, and this case is no exception. We're ready to enjoy the benefits of all the hard work and effort that has been poured into the journey to the new Museum, but we need your help to finish strong! We're still seeking gifts that can be made as multi-year pledges or single donations.

In November 2016, we kicked off the public portion of the campaign, which gives donors the opportunity to purchase a personalized plaque to be placed in our east garden or along our streetscape planting areas. So far, it's been a great success! To date, roughly 215 plaques have been sold, generating more than $375,000.

If you would like to purchase a plaque, now is the time! With a plaque, you can honor family, friends, or your personal heritage. By recognizing people who have meant so much, you can ensure that the Museum will be dedicated in the spirit of community. The names on each plaque will serve as poignant visual markers of all the hard work, dedication, and community engagement that has made this project possible.

How can you support the Museum?

  • Contribute to the Campaign! Make a donation or purchase a plaque. For more information about plaques, donations, or other ways to support the Museum, please contact Deputy Director Jan Woldseth Colbrese at 206.789.5707 x39 or
  • Become a Member! Nordic Heritage Museum Members get more, especially when it comes to the New Nordic! If you join now, you'll get all the usual perks, plus access to members-only events in the month leading up to the opening and the opportunity to visit the new Museum before it opens to the public. To learn more about Membership, contact Kelsey Svaren at 206.789.5707 or
  • Attend our events and festivals! The Museum's schedule is packed with fun events. To learn more about our upcoming events, click here.

Upcoming Events

There's still a lot going on at the Nordic Heritage Museum! Our newest exhibition, The Whimsical World of Bjørn Wiinblad, just opened Friday, July 28; we highly encourage you to come visit! Wiinblad (1918 – 2006) was a visionary Danish artist whose fantastic, exuberant work challenged and contrasted the "Danish modern" design movement that was massively popular at the time.

Join us August 19 and 20 to celebrate the final Viking Days festival in our current location. This family-friendly annual festival features Nordic foods and drinks, crafts for kids, lively entertainment, a Viking Encampment, and more!