Norwegian Royalty Visit Decorah | King Harald & Queen Sonja Travel to Vesterheim Museum


King Harald and Queen Sonja from Norway

Here’s the scoop from Vestertheim Norwegian-American Museum:

DECORAH, IOWA— Their Majesties King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway will visit Luther College and Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum on Thursday, October 13, and the museum invites the public to celebrate with dancing, music, food, and one of the best opportunities for people to see and hear the Royal Couple.

Vesterheim especially welcomes children to line the streets for the arrival of the King and Queen. Norwegian flags will be distributed to wave.

The festivities will begin at 3:00 p.m. on Water and Mill Streets adjacent to the museum. Homemade bars, cookies, and coffee courtesy of Vesterheim volunteers and Oneota Community Food Co-op will be served on Water Street in front of the Oneota Professional Building. The Oneota Co-op also will serve samples of food from local producers on Water Street west of the Mill Street intersection.

Decorah’s Nordic Dancers will perform for the public from 3:00 until 3:40 p.m. They will pause their performance when they King and Queen arrive at approximately 3:20 p.m. The dancing will resume once the Royal Couple and entourage have entered the museum.

In the museum’s Main Building, the Queen will briefly dedicate Vesterheim’s new Asbjørnsen Gallery and the Royal Couple will receive, as a special gift from Vesterheim, a plate with their portrait circled with rosemaling painted by Norma Wangsness of Decorah. Wangsness is a Vesterheim Gold Medalist in rosemaling, Norway’s decorative painting, and an accomplished photographic artist. Afterwards the King and Queen will meet with honored guests of the museum.

Activities inside the museum are closed to the general public, but the Royal Couple will re-emerge for what will be a major highlight of their Decorah visit—a press conference held on Mill Street in the museum’s Open Air Division. While they are inside the museum, visitors can continue to enjoy the free food and entertainment. At 3:50 p.m. the Luren Singing Society, Decorah’s renowned male chorus, will begin their performance on Mill Street near the museum’s Bethania Lutheran Church and just opposite where the King and Queen will entertain questions from the press.

At 3:54 p.m. the Royal Couple and entourage will leave the museum’s Main Building from the west door and make their way down Mill Street to the Open Air Division for a press conference moderated by Sven Gjeruldsen, Assistant Head of Communications, the Royal Palace. The general public is encouraged to stay for this rare exchange, which will make a great photo opportunity for everyone.

At the conclusion of the press conference, the Luren Singing Society will offer a brief farewell song and the King and Queen will depart at approximately 4:15 p.m. Even then, the party won’t be over. The Luren Singing Society will resume their performance on Mill Street for the public until 5:00 p.m., at which time the museum’s Main Building will open for to everyone free of charge until 8:00 p.m.

As with any other State Visit, security protocols must be observed on October 13. Vesterheim hopes that visitors will respect any areas designated out of bounds or for press only. The museum’s Main Building must remain closed to the general public until 5:00 p.m.

October 13 marks the eighth visit of Norwegian Royalty to Vesterheim Museum:

May 6 and 7, 1939  Crown Prince Olav and his wife, Princess Märtha, stayed in Decorah while on their first United States tour. The Crown Prince brought gifts for the Norwegian-American Historical Museum, now Vesterheim, from the National Association of Museums in Norway.

October 6, 1965  Crown Prince Harald, now King Harald V, visited Vesterheim and Luther College.

May 4, 1968  King Olav V returned for a tour of Luther College and Vesterheim.

October 14, 1975  King Olav V visited Luther College as it lays the cornerstone for the Center for Faith and Life and then participated in dedication ceremonies at Vesterheim’s newly restored Main Building.

November 28, 1987  King Olav V braved an ice storm to visit Vesterheim Museum and Luther College and dedicated the museum’s Egilsrud Archives.

October 19, 1995  Their Majesties King Harald V and Queen Sonja toured Vesterheim as part of their official diplomatic itinerary.

•  June 10, 1999  Crown Prince Haakon visited Decorah as part of the city’s sesquicentennial celebrations and dedicated Vesterheim’s Amdal-Odland Heritage Center.