It’s official, Norway House is open!
Norway House is a bridge between America and modern-day Norway
Leslee Lane Hoyum
“Phase One of Norway House is now complete,” said Jeff Mueller, director of operations. “The Education Building offers a gathering spot for all Norwegian organizations, programs, and the community as a whole.”
A 12,000-square-foot structure, the Education Building is the first of two buildings to open on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis. On Sunday, June 14, it was dedicated in a ceremony featuring former Norwegian Consul General Thor Johansen, who helped conceive the idea a decade ago, and Reverend Kristin Sundt, pastor at Mindekirken, Norway House’s neighbor.
“Norway House is a convener, collaborator, and provider,” says Mueller. “We want to work with other organizations to use our facilities to meet their needs and to work with them, whenever possible, to provide opportunities to jointly benefit both organizations.”
Norway House has already had a significant start in its role as collaborator. The County of Telemark, Norway, has opened an office in the building. In its role as convener, Norway House introduces Norwegian government and business officials to the connections they seek, whether in the area of education, business, tourism, or culture.
Furthermore, Concordia Language Villages Twin Cities operations are now located at Norway House. This autumn Barnehage, a collaborative effort among Concordia Language Villages, Mindekirken, and Norway House, moves to Norway House. It offers Norwegian language and culture education to preschool children through music, dance, creative play, crafts, games, stories, and food.
Another friend has also come to Norway House—Ingebretsen’s, Minneapolis’s premiere Scandinavian marketplace since 1921. Julie Ingebretsen opened also Ingebretsen’s in the Education Building with a beautiful array of Scandinavian gifts and a small menu of familiar Norwegian foods in its coffee shop.
“We are also very pleased to provide an incredibly designed gallery,” said Mueller. “It’s suitable for any medium. So far we’ve had two exhibits: Red, White and Blue—Norwegian Constitution, American Inspiration, a celebration of Norway’s Constitutional Bicentennial, and Norwegian Threads, an awe-inspiring exhibit combining the festdrakt artistry of Norwegian textile with textile- and tradition-inspired paintings. Both have been very successful. But we also hope that Norwegian organizations will take advantage of the gallery to highlight their histories and missions.”
Two other very important parts of Norway House’s mission and educational endeavors include the Edvard Grieg Society, which celebrates and promotes the music of Edvard Grieg and other Nordic composers through an annual concert series, and the Peace Initiative, which raises awareness of threats to global peace and stability and peacemaking efforts worldwide.
“As one can see, ‘education’ at Norway House is used in the very broadest sense,” said Mueller. “We do not necessarily mean classes in rosemaling, knitting, or Hardanger embroidery, for example. There are many fine organizations that provide excellent opportunities for this type of education, although we welcome them to use our facilities if they desire. We believe our collaboration efforts will keep the Norwegian community from duplicating each other’s efforts.
“Now we move to Phase Two, which is the Event Center,” said Mueller. “It will house a banquet hall, commercial kitchen, a fireplace room, a Bygedelag library for research, and perhaps a small restaurant. Over the next few years we will learn from our Education Building experience what the Norwegian and Norwegian-American community needs from us. We are hoping to take the next step in three to five years when we truly will become the Norwegian National Center in America.”
Norway House is located at 913 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis, Minn., adjacent to Mindekirken, the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church. For information, call (612) 871-2211 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in the June 26, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.