Updated: After several years of planning, fundraising and construction, the new Nordic Museum opened its doors in a windy outdoor ceremony on Market St. today. The museum officially completed its move from a much smaller building on Sunset Hill, its previous home since 1980.
“Many years ago there was some discussion about locating this museum in downtown Seattle or South Lake Union,” said CEO Eric Nelson, which prompted some playful boos from the crowd of several hundred in attendance. “But the museum decided that Ballard was the appropriate place for the Nordic Museum. Our front doors open to shops and restaurants, our back door to the working waterfront. The museum stands at the intersection of history and hipsters.”
“I congratulate all those who have worked so hard to design, construct and open this grand museum,” said Iceland President Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson (above), while his bodyguards watched the audience. “(It’s) a testimony to Nordic culture and heritage as well as the strong ties between the Nordic countries and North America.”
Along with Jóhannesson, Her Royal Highness Mary the Crown Princess of Denmark joined in the opening remarks.
“May the museum be a source of pride and inspiration,” she said. “As it represents some of the happiest countries in the world, may it also be a source of great happiness for all who visit.”
“I was lucky growing up in Seattle to see Ballard throughout the years,” explained Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. “My mother actually worked at the Ballard News Tribune for many years. I don’t think she’d recognize the Ballard of today. It has changed but it has evolved in a way, as you said, that it’s really reaching to be that connection between our past and what’s hip.”
The ambassadors of Sweden, Finland and Norway also said a few words.
“Seattle is one of my favorite places,” said Norway Ambassador Kåre Aas, noticing several Norwegian flags in the crowd. “The city combines natural beauty, fascinating people and a great maritime tradition in ways that remind me of Norway. No wonder then that Seattle and the rest of the Pacific Northwest became the preferred destination for the latest wave of immigrants from Norway to the United States. This is beautifully illustrated inside the museum.”
With the remarks complete, dignitaries gathered in front of the entrance — with Scandinavian media gathered around — for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony. After the dignitaries and press disappeared inside, the crowd followed a short time later.
Fjord Hall (above) divides the two main galleries, the northern side focuses on the Nordic Region and the southern side tells the story of Nordic America.
Officials and attendees with tickets toured the many exhibitions and collections on display. Nordic singers and traditional folk musicians performed on the outdoor stage and inside in the Great Hall — and they’ll be back again tomorrow.
While tickets were sold out today to see the museum galleries — which are upstairs in the building — there were still a few tickets available for tomorrow.
For more photos from inside the museum, My Ballard took an inside tour last week.
(All photos from My Ballard with the exception of the gallery tour above, which was provided by the Nordic Museum.)