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Chicago Norske Klub

Event Details

10:00 AM — November 15, 2015 4:00 PM
Location: Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum
502 W. Water Street
Decorah, Iowa 52101
Email: info@vesterheim.org
Phone: 563-382-9681
Website: vesterheim.org

Event Description

The Chicago Norske Klub was a center in Chicago for Norwegian-American social, cultural, and artistic activities from 1911 to 1971. This exhibition shares the history of the club, as well as artworks and furnishings from the clubhouse.

The club aimed to preserve Norwegian cultural heritage and promote sociability among members. Social activities were varied and interesting—men’s chorus, dramatic society, art exhibitions, banquets, and women’s auxiliary. Over the years the club hosted prominent visitors, such as explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen, authors Ole Rolvaag and Johan Bojer, the King and Queen of Romania, and many Norwegian dignitaries including the King and Queen of Norway.

The club often hosted benefits for American and Norwegian causes. For example, they raised $65,000 for the organization American Relief for Norway during World War II. During both world wars, the women’s auxiliary formed Red Cross chapters.

Another significant activity was an annual art exhibition. Vesterheim will display artworks that had been part of Chicago Norske Klub exhibitions in the 1920s and 1940s.

The clubhouse, dedicated July 4, 1917, was designed by the firm Giaver and Dinkelberg. The Vesterheim exhibition shows furnishings from the clubhouse, many of which were designed by club members who were artists. The massive “high seat,” complete with carved dragon-head bench ends, a mural depicting Leif Erickson’s discovery of America, and coats of arms of Norwegian cites have been displayed in the gallery.