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Exhibition for Vesterheim Museum’s Pioneer Immersion Program on View

Thu, May 1st, 2014
Posted in All Arts & Culture

DECORAH, Iowa — Area fourth-grade students invite everyone to Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center, for an exhibition of pioneer projects and journals that they created while participating in Vesterheim’s Pioneer Immersion Program. The exhibition will be in the third-floor galleries of the museum’s Main Building and open for viewing daily, May 12 to 18, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

There will be an Open House on Thursday, May 15, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. with a reception in the lobby of the Main Building. Opening greetings will be at 5:30 p.m. There will be free admission all day on May 15.

The students participating in the exhibition are from the Decorah Community Schools, North Winneshiek School, and St. Benedict School. The Pioneer Immersion Program is sponsored through 2014 by Dan and Bonnie Huebner of Decorah, Iowa.

Each spring, Vesterheim becomes a classroom for fourth-grade students. In March and April, students and their teachers make five visits to the museum, immersing themselves in the history and culture of nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century immigrants.

This program uses the Norwegian-American experience as a jumping-off point for exploring the experiences of other immigrant groups during the time period. Students use artifacts, archival materials, and hands-on activities to gain a better understanding of what it meant for immigrants to journey from their homelands and establish new lives in America.

Prior to their visits to the museum, the students create immigrant identities for themselves, using immigrant diaries, documents, and other sources. The students record their impressions and thoughts in their own journals as they take part in activities like packing an immigrant trunk, constructing a “log” home, and completing a series of typical pioneer chores. Along with their journals, students make a project related to immigrant and history.

Through 24,000 objects and 12 historic buildings, Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center in Decorah, Iowa, shares the most comprehensive collection of Norwegian-American artifacts in the world. This treasure is also a center for folk-art education, offering a wide variety of classes in authentic Norwegian folk art every year. For more information on the museum’s exhibitions, classes, events, membership opportunities, and ways to donate, check Vesterheim’s website at, call (563) 382-9681, or write to Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, 502 W. Water St., P.O. Box 379, Decorah, IA, 52101-0379.

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