Vesterheim Launches a New Season Under New Leadership
DECORAH, Iowa—Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum kicks off a new season of activities under new leadership. Long-time Vesterheim employee Steven Johnson, who recently assumed the position of Interim Executive Director of the museum, said he is sure that “everyone will find something to enjoy in the 2009 series of events, exhibitions, and other programs at Vesterheim.”
Johnson’s history with Vesterheim began in 1974, when he became the museum’s Architectural Assistant, after graduating from Luther College with a history major with concentrations in art history, anthropology, and museum studies. He left Decorah in 1976 to work as Site Manager at the Museum of Medical Progress, State Medical Society of Wisconsin in Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin, and then as Restoration Supervisor at the Heritage Hill State Park, Wisconsin State Dept. of Natural Resources, in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
He returned to Vesterheim in 1979 as the Jacobson Farmstead Curator, with a brief sabbatical to attend Western Kentucky University where he received his M.A. in folk studies in 1983. During his 30 years at the museum he also has served as Associate Director of Development Internal Auditor, Director of Development, and Director of Historic Preservation and Facilities. He was promoted to Deputy Director in 2002.
Johnson has been active in preserving community history as a member of Nordic Fest, Inc., the Norman Borlaug Heritage Foundation, the Winneshiek County Historical Society, Winneshiek County Tourism Council, Winneshiek County Civil War Monument Restoration, and the Winneshiek County Records Study Committee. He most recently became a member of the Decorah Board of Adjustment.
Johnson assumed the Interim Executive Director position when former museum Executive Director Janet Blohm Pultz resigned earlier this year. A farewell reception recognizing Pultz’s 11 years of service to Vesterheim will be held in the museum lobby on May 9 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Vesterheim uses the story of Norwegian Americans to explore aspects of identity and culture common to everyone. The museum cares for over 24,000 artifacts, among which are some of the most outstanding examples of decorative and folk art to be seen in this country. Founded in 1877, Vesterheim is the oldest and most comprehensive museum in the United States dedicated to a single immigrant group. This national treasure includes a main complex of 16 historic buildings in downtown Decorah, and an immigrant farmstead and prairie church just outside the city.