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Vesterheim showcases Norwegian “Mid-Century Modern” Enamel

Thu, Aug 14th, 2014
Posted in All Arts & Culture

DECORAH, Iowa — “Mid-Century Modern” is the hot buzzword in today’s retro-design trend. Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center, will turn its spotlight on Norway’s contributions to mid-century design in the exhibition, “Scandinavian Modern Design: Norwegian Enamel,” opening on August 22. There will be an opening event on Saturday, August 23, from 7 - 9 p.m., with a gallery talk at 7:30 p.m. The exhibition is sponsored by Mary Mills Dunea, Isabelle and R.L. Dyck, Becky and Bob Shaw, Humanities Iowa, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, with additional support.

This exhibition focuses on Norwegian enamel design and enamel production (technology, innovation, and business). “Artistic and technical innovations in enamel work were Norway’s greatest, though least remembered, contributions to the Scandinavian Modern Design movement of the mid-twentieth century,” Laurann Gilbertson, Vesterheim’s Chief Curator, said.

The exhibition features Grete Prytz Kittelsen, known as the “Queen of Scandinavian Design,” through her work for the firms Tostrup and Cathrineholm. With good design, functional forms, inexpensive materials, and efficient manufacturing, especially through her partnership with Cathrineholm, she brought Norwegian enamel design into the forefront in both Scandinavia and the United States.

The exhibition will showcase enamel jewelry, cookware, and tableware from Vesterheim’s collection and from individuals. The guest curator for the exhibition is Kate Martinson, Emeritus Professor of Art at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Exhibition programing will include gallery talks, presentations, and receptions.

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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