As part of its continuing response to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center, has made the difficult decision to close its doors, including the Museum Store, and discontinue all programming and classes from March 17 through April 13.

Observing CDC recommendations, the 2020 Vesterheim Tours to Norway have been canceled, as have upcoming special gatherings like the Madison Friends of Vesterheim event and the Favorite Things exhibition reception (March 28), the Twin Cities Friends of Vesterheim event (April 19), and the Des Moines Friends of Vesterheim event (April 26). A special museum task force meets daily to monitor the situation and will issue updates as needed.

“Museums can be places of refuge and comfort, and we had wished to remain open to serve our community,” Vesterheim President/CEO Chris Johnson said. “But, in these unprecedented times, the best service we can offer is to safeguard the health of our visitors and staff. We all profoundly hope that the time will soon come when we are able to reopen our doors in welcome.”

While Vesterheim is closed, the public is invited to explore the museum’s many online resources, including its popular virtual galleries and the convenient, secure online shopping at the Museum Store. Vesterheim staff continues to work on a variety of projects: developing creative ways to serve the public virtually, caring for the collection, rescheduling events, adjusting programming, and maintaining the museum.

Our hearts go out to the people in Iowa and around the world who have been affected by this virus. We appreciate all the healthcare workers and so many others who are working day and night to address this extraordinary situation.

The situation is evolving rapidly and we will continue to update with news related to reopening. Also, follow Vesterheim on Facebook and Instagram for updates and information.