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Arts & Culture

New, Massive Nordic Museum Prepares To Open To Public

The new Nordic Museum is set to open this weekend in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.

The $50 million building stretches along Market Street in the city’s Ballard neighborhood. It boasts 57,000 square feet of space, including a long “Fjord Hall” that runs the length of the building, separating exhibits about the Nordic countries on one side, and the Nordic experience in America on the other side.

Bridges cross the gap between exhibit spaces up above the hall, symbolizing migration from one place to the other. And here in the Pacific Northwest, that migration has not stopped.

“In the 1930s and 40s, [it was] Norwegian fisherman,” Nelson said. “In the 50s and 60s, Swedish engineers working in aviation at Boeing coming over from Saab. And more recently innovators from the tech industry have been coming into the Pacific Northwest, which continually refreshes this sense of what it is to be Nordic.”

There’s also a 35-foot-high map of the Nordic Region, where visitors will be able to use laser pointers to show where they or their ancestors come from. Even the building itself hearkens back to the region -- elevators from Finland, locks from Sweden, and siding from Denmark, to name a few touches.

Nelson says having this new, huge space will help the museum tell a story that resonates with people whether they claim Nordic ancestry or not.

“The stories about journey and establishing families in a new land are things that are universal,” he said.

But he adds there are deep parallels, even today, between the Pacific Northwest and the Nordic region, which includes Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Greenland, and related territories.

“This commitment to sustainability and a connection to nature, the fascination and drive for innovation, social justice, openness: They’re all qualities that we find both here in the Pacific Northwest and in the Nordic region,” Nelson said.

Saturday’s opening ceremonies get underway at noon Saturday outside the museum, at 2655 NW Market St., in Seattle. The President of Iceland and the Crown Princess of Denmark are among the dignitaries expected to be there.

Events continue throughout the weekend and through the rest of May.