Creative learning for life

Vesterheim offers new online courses for anyone, anywhere in the world

A Dala Horse-style carved unicorn, one of many things you can learn to make through the Vesterheim Folk Art School

Photos courtesy of Vesterheim
From wooden horses to felt elves, in Vesterheim’s online courses, both adults and children can explore a new skill and learn about Scandinavian folk art traditions from a master artist.

Decorah, Iowa

Vesterheim, the National Norwegian-American Museum and Folk Art School, is rolling out 2021 classes in new and exciting ways. 

“The class schedule for 2021 is different from previous years, but we’re thrilled with the new options we’re offering and hopeful about bringing students back to campus safely later in the second half of the year,” Lea Lovelace, Vesterheim director of Folk Art Education, said.

“Instead of announcing the full year ahead, we’re revealing one quarter at a time,” she continued. Classes from January through March will be in an online format and are open now for registration. The schedule for April through June will be listed online and open for registration on Feb. 10. To register, visit 

“We’re constantly evaluating the pandemic situation and will announce onsite classes as soon as we feel we can offer them safely,” Lovelace said.

“An exciting aspect of the new online classes is that anyone can participate from anywhere in the world. We’ve had students attend from a few blocks away and from the other side of the world in Australia,” Lovelace said. 

“Online classes offer a whole new opportunity to connect people to folk art, and we plan to continue to grow our program in this format, while also starting to resume some of our beloved campus programs with beloved folk art instructors,” she continued.

Classes in the first quarter include woodworking, rosemaling, fiber arts, metalworking, jewelry, and language, but there is a special emphasis on Nordic foods in connection with the traveling exhibit, “New Nordic Cuisine.” 

Cooking classes include a family heritage cooking series, featuring classics like kringle and lefse. There are a number of craft cocktail classes, including instruction on how to make gløgg with Emily Vikre from Vikre Distillery in Duluth, Minn. 

And on Jan. 30, there will be a free exclusive conversation with Nevada Berg, celebrated chef from Norway and author of the cookbook North Wild Kitchen (2018), to discuss the meaning of Nordic cooking.

Another focus this year at Vesterheim Folk Art School is family programs. Monthly “Family Book Adventures” and “Family Norwegian Language Adventures” are continuing into the New Year.

The book adventures include family-fun activities focused on a Scandinavian-inspired story. The language adventures offer hands-on activities, fun crafts, lighthearted games, and short videos for families to learn and practice their Norwegian skills. A special kit with activities, crafts, and snacks is mailed to each participating family.

In 2021, Vesterheim is offering a new program, “Family Handcraft at Home.” This series has been designed to facilitate an intergenerational folk-art experience for an adult and child duo to do together. Together parents and kids can explore a new skill and learn about Scandinavian folk art traditions from a master artist—all in the comfort and safety of home.

You can sign up for these programs at Class costs are listed on the website and include paid, low-cost, and free. Pre-registration is required for all programs and space is limited.

The Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts through the federal CARES Act legislation and the Huebner Education Fund have provided support for the online programs.

Support for family programs is provided by the United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund Phase 1, an initiative of Arts Midwest and its peer United States Regional Arts Organizations made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Family Heritage Cooking series is supported by corporate sponsor A&J Petersburg Agency.

Vesterheim, the National Norwegian-American Museum and Folk Art School, welcomes people of all ages and backgrounds to engage in the conversation of the American immigrant journey through the lens of the Norwegian-American experience, and to participate in the continual evolution of traditional folk art as it meets new influences. 

Vesterheim offers innovative and interactive exhibits, classes, and programs, both at the dynamic campus and park in scenic Decorah, Iowa, and online at and Vesterheim social media. 

For more information on exhibits, classes, programs, tours, membership opportunities, and ways to donate and volunteer, connect at, (563) 382-9681, and Vesterheim, 502 W. Water St., P.O. Box 379, Decorah, Iowa, 52101-0379.

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 29, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa is the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center, with over 33,000 artifacts, 12 historic buildings, a Folk Art School, and a library and archives. This treasure showcases the most extensive collection of Norwegian- American artifacts in the world. Visit