Celebrate the last Yulefest at the ‘old’ Nordic Heritage Museum this weekend

Now in its 40th year, Yulefest at the Nordic Heritage Museum is one of our favorite annual Ballard events, kicking off the holiday season. This year has special significance: it will be the last Yulefest in the “old museum” on NW 67th St. before the move to the new facility next year.

This weekend’s celebration has all the trappings of a traditional Nordic Christmas: Scandinavian food and drinks, live music and dancing, vendors selling handcrafted items, kids’ crafts — and a visit from Santa himself. The museum will also raffle off a weekend getaway at the Browns Point Lighthouse Cottage, a working museum where the winners will get to act as honorary light keepers.

There are 21 music and dance performances scheduled, including the fan favorites Norwegian Male Chorus and Norwegian Ladies Chorus of Seattle. Here’s the schedule.

Yulefest runs this Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days. Adult admission is $5 per person. Kids 12 and under are admitted for free. Admission is complimentary for Nordic Heritage Museum Members.

A peek inside the new Nordic Museum

With the Nordic Heritage Museum set to close its current location on Nov. 20, construction crews are making good progress on the Ballard museum’s new location on Market Street.

“It’s more than just design. We’ve also made a concerted effort to make sure the Museum’s interior and exterior feature Nordic products,” explains Eric Nelson, the museum’s CEO.

The white siding, seen here on the exterior, is Cembonit, manufactured in Denmark. The insulation and the pumps come from two Danish companies, and the elevators are the product of KONE, a Finnish company. Interior light fixtures are by Danish lighting manufacturer Louis Poulson.

Looking down Fjord Hall. Beginning later this month, builders will begin work on the interior bridges.

Here’s the auditorium. Contractors are beginning work on the wooden walls.

This is the cafe. A fireplace will be installed next week.

And here’s the sun terrace.

In addition to Nordic products, there’s a long list of Ballard companies helping with the new facility. Nelson says the museum is “on target” to have the building complete at the end of December. Staff will then begin migrating to the new facility in time for the official grand opening on May 5th of next year.

In the interim months between the closure of the old facility and the grand opening, the museum will provide programming and exhibits off-site.

Current Nordic Heritage Museum to close its doors on Nov. 20

The Nordic Heritage Museum is gearing up for their move to Market St, which means they’ll be closing their current location on Nov. 20. The grand opening at the new location isn’t until May 5, so in the meantime, they’ll provide programming off-site.

“There’s only a few weeks left to see the Museum in its current location, including our original core exhibition, The Dream of America. The new building’s core exhibition will expand the story and be presented in a brand-new way, so if you love The Dream as much as we do, be sure to visit us before Yulefest,” according to the museum’s event organizers.

They have several upcoming events, including a welcoming reception for the Finnish Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi on Nov. 3.  Yulefest is just around the corner, held on Nov. 18 and 19, just before the museum closes. For all upcoming events, click here.

Nordic woodcarving classes at Nordic Heritage Museum this fall

If you’re looking for a new creative outlet, the Nordic Heritage Museum is offering Nordic woodcarving classes on Saturdays from 9am to 3:30pm, September 16 through November 11.

“In this class, participants will learn Baroque Acanthus, Rococo, and Viking/Dragon woodcarving styles. You can concentrate on the fundamental leaf formations of the Acanthus style, working up to combinations of the Acanthus curl, or explore the Viking/Dragon style,” according to the organizers from the museum.

No tools or experience is necessary; they’ll be teaching tool sharpening and basic carving techniques for beginners, and more advanced students will have an opportunity to develop their own projects. The cost for museum members is $45 for 1 class; $85 for 2; $125 for 3; $160 for 4; $200 for 5. For general admission, add $2 per day. Tickets can be bought per month; register for September classes here.

Community meeting planned to discuss Webster School renovation

A group of Ballard residents are hosting a meeting to discuss concerns over Seattle School District’s plans to renovate and reopen Webster School (currently the Nordic Heritage Museum) starting in 2018. The meeting is Tuesday, August 29 from 6 to 7:30 pm at the Nordic Heritage Museum, 3014 NW 67th St.

According to Seattle Public Schools (SPS), Webster School was originally constructed in 1908. It was closed in 1979, when it was then leased to the Pacific Nordic Council. Since 1980, the building has housed the Nordic Heritage Museum. However, because the museum will be moved to its new location in early 2018, SPS wants to reopen Webster School in the building.

SPS proposes to reopen the school with a capacity of up to 450 students. Plans include updating the building and retrofitting the interior, and constructing a building addition to house a new gymnasium.

According to SPS, the project will include:

  • Demolition
  • Seismic improvement to the original unreinforced masonry 1908 building;
  • An addition of 7,700 square feet on the west side of the property housing a new gymnasium and covered play area;
  • Structural, mechanical, electrical, data/telecom, modernization/upgrades; and
    Life safety and sustainability upgrades.
  • Portions of the building’s exterior and interior were designated as a Seattle Landmark by the City of Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board in June 2015. Features to be preserved include the site, the exteriors of the 1908 building and 1930 addition, the 1930 meeting room/auditorium, the 1930 library reading rooms, and the halls and stairs of the second and third floors in the 1908 building.

Tuesday’s meeting will be hosted by local school activist Chris Jackins with Seattle Committee to Save Schools. His concerns, outlined in a letter to residents, include the following:

  • City zoning code would not be met: lot coverage, building height (17% taller), on-street bus loading.
  • Loss of 69% of significant trees, and endangering an exceptional tree: Chinese photinia at SE corner.
  • Loss of playground space and open space: at least 11% of the playground would be lost, and probably twice that amount.
  • Loss of on-site parking: the current 67 on-site spaces would be reduced to 5.
  • Historic and Cultural Preservation: the covered play area should not be demolished. The School Board has requested that the State exempt the Seattle School Disctrict from City Landmarks regulation, putting historic features at risk.

Jackins is also concerned about the plan to construct new buildings on the playground, and points out that there is an inadequate description of the project from the Seattle School District. (For the full document of the concerns, download this PDF of the letter from Jackins, sent to us by reader Amy Janas)

Public comments and concerns about the plans are due by 5pm on September 7 and should be sent to SEPAcomments@seattleschools.org or to Pegi McEvoy, pmcevoy@seattleschools.org. 206-252-0707.

Photo courtesy Nordic Heritage Museum 

Viking takeover of Ballard this weekend

Correction: Viking Days is happening on Saturday and Sunday, August 19 and 20, starting at 10 am each day.

Original: This weekend is the annual Viking Days festival at the Nordic Heritage Museum, a free and all-ages two-day event. On Friday and Saturday (August 19, 20) they’ll have Nordic food, music, crafts, educational demonstrations and as always, a Viking encampment. This will be the last Viking Days festival at their current location; the new Nordic Museum will open in early 2018 on NW Market St.

The festival starts at 10 am each day with a Swedish Pancake Breakfast. According to museum staff, “Delicacies from each of the five Nordic countries are available throughout the festival, from Danish æbleskiver to Swedish meatballs to Icelandic vinarterta. You can enjoy grilled sausages and salmon burgers at the Viking Grill, aquavit and craft beer from Odin Brewing Company in the Valhalla Beer Garden—and make sure to stop by Saturday for our Salmon BBQ, which starts at 1 p.m.”

One of the most popular parts of the festival is the Viking encampment, where visitors can see what a day in the life of a Viking was like. There will be opportunities to participate in demonstrations on weaving, woodcarving, weapon-forging, games and more. “But watch out — a battle may erupt at any moment!”

There will be traditional Norwegian music on three different stages, local artisans selling handcrafts, and Viking-themed craft booths for kids. There will also be a raffle for prizes such as a week-long stay at the Eagle Crest Resort (April 8–15, 2018), a new Museum naming plaque, a Mariners package, and more.

Because it’s the last festival at their current location, they’ll be offering docent-led tours of our original core exhibition, The Dream of America, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day, as well as tours of the brand-new visiting exhibition, The Whimsical World of Bjørn Wiinblad, at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Photo courtesy Nordic Museum

Viking Days coming up soon

The Nordic Heritage Museum’s annual Viking Days festival is just a few weeks away, with Nordic food, entertainment, and even a mock Viking encampment. The festival will run from 10am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday, August 19 and 20.

Some of the festival highlights include (from the Nordic Museum’s event page):

  • Swedish Pancake Breakfast, Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 1pm.
  • Afternoon Salmon Bake with Alder-smoked salmon and all the fixins’.
  • Food Hearths: Eat your way through Scandinavia, tasting goodies from all five countries.
  • Valhalla Beer Garden: Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 10am-5pm. Enjoy Aquavit and local craft beers.
  • Viking Grill: Sausages and Alaskan Salmon burgers, Ivar’s clam chowder, and more!
  • Entertainment on 3 different stages.
  • Larger-than-life Viking Encampment with weaving, weapon forging, and war.

The organizers are still after a few good volunteers; click here for more information. “Sign up to fry pancakes, grill brats, bake æbleskiver, pour beer, run supplies, sell raffle tickets, and much more! Volunteer perks include a festival T-shirt, food, and fun,” they say on their website.

Photo by Dennis Bratland via Wikimedia Commons

Last chance to see National Heritage Galleries at Nordic Museum

In preparation for their upcoming move, the Nordic Heritage Museum is slowly closing down some of their galleries in order to pack them up. This Saturday, June 24 from 10am to 5pm will be the last opportunity to see the National Heritage Galleries before they reopen in the new museum next year. The event is free and open to the public.

Between 2 and 4pm, the museum will host tours of the galleries; guests can pick up a copy of “Voices in Ballard” while supplies last. According to the event information, the closing of the galleries for the move is an important marker in the museum’s history, so they’ll be filming the open house.

There will be a closing reception from 4-5pm with light refreshments and a brief program on the history of the museum and community effort to create the galleries. To attend the free reception, RSVP here, or by calling the museum: (206) 789-5707 x26.