Sunday, October 19, 2008

Nordic Heritage Museum (Ballard)

After years of wanting to explore this place, it has happened. I owe it to synchronicity, which began upon my return from Mexico. I took the bus home from the airport. At the bus stop, an Irish tourist, Daniel, asked me how to get to 4th/Pike. He was on his way to the Green Tortoise Hostel, a rock's throw from the Market. I had the same stop (to make my transfer to another bus), so we took the bus to Westlake Center and I walked him to the Green Tortoise. We discussed meeting a few days later to go the Olympic Sculpture Park and Nordic Heritage Museum.

We set off into the OSP, walking and chatting as strangers are wont to do. However, a problem developed--I had to find a toilet. We couldn't find the port-a-potty. I asked a few strangers walking in our direction if there were any beyond. Some were clueless; one man said yes, he believed there was one. Meanwhile, the bladder was filling at the quickened rate it does when you cannot find a WC. Suddenly (after dozens of minutes), I spotted the bathrooms. My gait increased and as I walked up to the oasis, the sign posted on the door almost brought tears (not happy ones) to my eyes: BATHROOM CLOSED. A friendly passer-by noted that they'd been open just yesterday (that's great...THX!). He suggested I relieve myself under the bridge. Let me explain: the bridge led to the pier where several folks were fishing. Daniel seconded the suggestion. I was reluctant for about 10 seconds. There wasn't enough time to walk to the front of the park where I was assured there was one, so I climbed off the bridge onto the craggy rocks. I may talk big about bravery in acts, such as public urination, but in reality, I am squeamish. When I got to the area under the bridge, I realized I was gonna have to go much deeper since the fishermen on the pier and folks on the trail could see me. I had to make my way around and through huge cobwebs and trash to finally find an obscured location. There was one guy on the pier I was unsure about but once I unbuckled, unzipped and started, it was instant relief. I happened to have a napkin in my purse. I made my way back out and we continued as if this occurrence was just a piece of a day-in-the-life. What is the point of my story? I'll tell you...what the hell is wrong with OSP not having more bathrooms for the peds? Come on! As we headed back out of the park, toward the entrance, there it was-the sole port-a-potty. It was near a construction area and I must have missed it on the way in. ARGH!

On to the Nordic Heritage Museum. Tucked away in Ballard, this former school has climate control issues and consequently isn't accredited. The building (which happens to have very nice bathrooms) is for sale. Within the next two years, the museum will be moving into a warehouse building near Habitude on Market street. Check it out. This museum is unique. The exhibits are  set up as dioramas. Who knows if they'll keep the integrity when they move.

From the Nordic Heritage Museum site at

"The First Floor
The Dream of America is the story of immigration told in an exhibit of life-like dioramas. Travel with your family back to the nineteenth-century Scandinavian countryside to begin the journey to America, starting with the move to the city. The voyage continues as you board a ship to make the Atlantic crossing, and land at Ellis Island. The adventure goes on to experiences in New York, and the expansion to the Midwest, Great Plains, and Pacific Northwest, ending in Ballard. Here the growth and development of a typical small Northwest community is displayed, complete with a post office, church, drug store, blacksmith shop, and a family home."

Dala horse


You are welcomed by a Dalecarlian or Dala horse. This traditional wooden statuette originated in the Swedish province of Dalarna. It represents Sweden.


Waiting for the boat to go abroad 

More waiting... 















Old-school fire hose








Jail cell used for drunks








"The Second Floor
The Promise of the Northwest exhibit includes two galleries that focus on the logging and fishing industries, which employed many immigrants who brought skills learned in the old country. These galleries show the contributions of the Nordic pioneers to the settlement of the Pacific Northwest. The Heritage Rooms display treasured and useful items the immigrants brought with them, including folk costumes, textiles, tools, and furniture."

"The Third Floor
The third floor exhibitions illustrate the differences and the common bonds among the Scandinavian people. There is one gallery for each of the five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Each gallery highlights that group’s special achievements in the Pacific Northwest."

If you've read this far in this longest post ever, you will see why the Nordic Heritage Museum is a good time. If the batteries in my camera hadn't run out of juice, you'd have seen images of the beautiful furniture and boats on display. Also on display: huge Lego sculptures. Again, make sure to get there before museum is moved. You won't regret it.

No comments: