Celebrate the exhibit, “Tattoo: Identity through Ink,” at Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center, Thursday, July 18, from 5 to 7 p.m. with a free family-friendly community event.

Everyone is invited to enter a tattoo design contest. Bring a design ready to submit, or make one at the event from 5 to 6 p.m. Visitors will vote at 6:30 p.m. The winning design will be announced at 7 p.m. and will be made into temporary tattoos for sale in the Museum Store.

Remarks will be at 6 p.m. There will be light appetizers and wine from the Rowley Family Vineyard, plus a cash bar serving Valkryie Strike IPA from Toppling Goliath Brewery.

The exhibit is sponsored by Nick and Courtney Rowley, with community partners Brock’s Valhalla Tattoo and Toppling Goliath Brewing Co., and will run through April 26, 2020.

For more than 5,000 years, tattoos have been used to document the history of humanity one mark at a time, and, today, tattoos have never been more popular.

The exhibit celebrates both the serious and sensational ways body art reverberates in people’s lives.

Of course there is a Scandinavian connection–with celebrated artists like Norwegian Johan Frederik Knudsen and Norwegian-American Amund Dietzel, the question of whether or not Vikings had tattoos, and the rise of a whole modern Neo-Nordic style of tattooing. But the exhibition also looks more deeply at the traditions of body ornamentation in other cultures and connections to them.

In the exhibit there is a working tattoo station, and visitors have the opportunity to design their own tattoos on silicone arms and hold an actual tattoo machine (with no needles, of course) to see how it feels.

Guest curator Lars Krutak, a research associate at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a scholar of body art and has authored four books on the subject of Indigenous body modification. Krutak also co-curated a similar tattoo exhibition that toured to the Field Museum in Chicago and the LA Museum of Natural History.

Toppling Goliath Brewing Co., one of the premier craft beer producers in the world, launched a new brew, “Valkyrie Strike,” in conjunction with the exhibition. Brock Swenson designed the distinctive label, and the beer was brewed with a heritage Norwegian yeast strain called Kevik.

Check Vesterheim.org for future exhibit-related events.