Norway House dedicates new Mondale Galleri

A place for gathering, a place for learning

Mondale Galleri

As the speeches and sharing of memories concluded, Ted Mondale cut the dedication ribbon held by Mondale family members and other dignitaries in attendance at the ceremony at Norway House’s Joan + Walter Mondale Galleri in Minneapolis.

Synneva Bratland
Editorial Assistant
The Norwegian American

The gallery at Norway House has had some new life breathed into it. On Friday, May 17th, the space was formally dedicated as the Joan + Walter Mondale Galleri. The event set a wonderful tone for a full day of constitutional celebration.

On the gallery walls was the Democracy Center, the exhibit created by The Norwegian American is “a place to learn what freedom means” and gives people of all ages a place to explore the ideas of democracy.

The new exhibit focuses primarily on the history of and connections between the United States and Norway.

It also includes a “Kids’ Corner” with games and activities to get younger children interested and involved in the democratic process. There is even a ballot box where they can cast their vote on an issue or question pertinent to them.

The new exhibit provided the perfect backdrop for an event recognizing the contributions of two lifelong public servants and passionate members of the Norwegian-American community.

The event started as Christina Carleton, CEO and president of Norway House, greeted the crowd with a cheerful, “God dag, god dag” and “gratulerer med dagen,” wishing congratulations on both the anniversary of the constitution and Norway House’s 20th birthday. Carleton continued, saying that “when Norway House was started in 2004, [they] could only dream of hosting an event like this.”

The gallery, which Carleton shared is lovingly referred to as “Norway House’s living room,” was packed that morning with more than a dozen members of the Mondale family, former politicians and diplomats, and many more members of the Norwegian-American community.

Amy Klobuchar

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) from the state of Minnesota paid tribute to the legacy of Joan and Walter Mondale and their service to their home state and country, sharing fond personal memories.

The next speaker of the morning was U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D) of Minnesota. She began by sharing what a sense of “friendship, joy, and decency” there was in the room that day. Klobuchar went on to stress the importance of hope and democracy in our times. “We don’t want democracy to die in the darkness,” she said,
“and there is so much light in this gallery [with an exhibit] about democracy.”

In recent years, Klobuchar has been a frequent visitor at Norway House: at the dedication of Norway House’s new building in 2022 with Queen Sonja, for a fireside chat on the situation in Ukraine and democracy in Europe with Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre in the fall of 2023, and most recently for a roundtable discussion in celebration of the 75th anniversary of NATO in April of 2024.

Senator Klobuchar got her start in Washington D.C. as an intern in Vice President Mondale’s office during her college years. Although she had grand expectations for her experiences (debating foreign policy, etc.) Klobuchar ended up crawling under tables and doing other not-so-glamorous jobs.

She saw Walter Mondale as an honest man who wasn’t in it for the fame and glory of politics and who never forgot his roots.

Although Walter— or Fritz, as many called him—was the one who held political office, Joan was a powerful force in her own right. Nicknamed “Joan of Art,” Joan Mondale was a fierce advocate of the arts throughout her life.

Ted Mondale

Ted Mondale, son of Joan and Walter Mondale, reminisces about his parents and their life together as a family in Washington, D.C.,Mondale spoke of his mother’s love of art and his father’s love for Norway.

Ted Mondale began his remarks sharing some of the latest news from the Mondale family — one of Walter and Joan’s grandsons had recently been married (and he’s giving Norwegian lessons to his new bride). With at least 15 members of the Mondale family in attendance, there was such a strong feeling of community and support in the gallery, so it seemed only fitting that everyone in attendance should get to share in the joy of the family’s good news.

Ted Mondale, Joan and Walter’s eldest son, shared a story from the family’s time living in Washington D.C. He explained that his mother didn’t expect his father to win reelection, so they took “the Mondale March” every weekend to visit each monument and museum in D.C. while they had the chance.

Joan Mondale was not just an appreciator of the arts but also a talented artist herself. Klobuchar shared that, as she often does, she drank her coffee that morning out of a mug handmade by Joan.

Joseph Grodahl - Lori Ann Reinhall

Joseph Grødahl, director of programs and operations at Norway House introduced Editor-in-chief Lori Ann Reinhall, who shared a touching story about a chance meeting with Vice President Walter Mondale at the White House.

The Norwegian American’s very own editor-in-chief, Lori Ann Reinhall, also shared a touching story about Walter Mondale and his passions for both his Norwegian heritage and the arts.

She talked about how certain experiences can shape one’s life, and for her, it was a visit to Washington, D.C., when she graduated from college, where she had the good luck to meet the Vice President Mondale.

Much later, Reinhall visited Eidsvoll, Norway, where the Norwegian Constitution was signed in 1814, an experience that provided the inspiration for the exhibit.

With the ceremonial ribbon cut and the Joan + Walter Mondale Galleri official dedicated, there was a sense that Norway House had moved into a new era.

Christina Carleton

Norway House Executive Director Christina Carleton offered her guests a special 17th of May cake decorated in red, white, and blue to celebrate the dedication of the new Joan + Walter Mondale Galleri.

A reception followed, which included some typical Norwegian fare and a cake decorated in red, white, and blue, the colors of the U.S. and Norwegian flags. The guests took time to reminisce about the past, as they also looked forward to the future.

This momentous event served as a strong reminder of the vast network of connections within the Norwegian-American community. What started as a dream just 20 years ago is now permanently tied to two individuals known around the world for their personal and political contributions.

For those wishing to learn more about Norway House or to visit the new Joan + Walter Mondale Galleri, please visit their website at norwayhouse.org.

The Democracy Center exhibit will be availble through July 28 and is free and open to the general public during opening hours.

For those unable to make it to Norway House, the entire contents of the exhibit, including the games and activities for children, are available to download online. Please visit: democracy.norwegianamerican.com

Photos: John Kaul

This article originally appeared in the June 2024 issue of The Norwegian American.

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Synneva Bratland

Synneva Bratland is the Editorial Assistant for The Norwegian American. Born and raised in Minnesota, she attended folkehøgskole outside of Oslo before receiving a dual degree in Norwegian and Mathematics from St. Olaf College. She currently lives in St. Paul, where she can be found playing Nordic folk music, instructing Norwegian language courses, and making art at her kitchen table.