Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum announces the opening of "Childhood," a new exhibition about the lives of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century children.

The exhibition is on view through April 21, 2013, in the Hauge Gallery on the third floor of the museum's Main Building. "Childhood" is sponsored by Ham and Suzanne Peterson, Ruth Fjelstad, Sons of Norway, Kristiania Lodge No. 1-47, and Sons of Norway, Solglimt Lodge No. 1-547.

The exhibition is curated by Laurann Gilbertson, Vesterheim chief curator, and Jennifer Kovarik, Vesterheim registrar and youth educator.

The exhibition showcases many interesting and rarely displayed historic photographs and objects from Vesterheim's collections. Many toys and other personal items of Norwegian-American children are on view, as well as some unusual items, such as a Victorian combination potty chair and high chair.

The objects and photographs are arranged by themes, which include "Coming Over," "At School," "At Play," "At Work" and "At Home." Children and adults are invited to explore further through interactive stations in each theme area, such as packing an immigrant trunk and playing with old-time toys.

"We think this exhibition has a little something for everyone and will appeal to visitors of all ages, said Kovarik. "I hope adults find themselves remembering their childhoods and children find themselves exploring their own childhoods."

"We have purposely grouped the objects and photographs in relatable themes and asked questions at each of the interactive areas to encourage family members to discuss and share ideas and memories," she added.

Special programming for the exhibition includes a Tea Party Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013. This is a "Free First Thursday" event with free admission to the museum all day sponsored by Decorah Bank & Trust.

Information about this and other exhibit-related events will be posted at vesterheim.org as details become available.