The Business Plan for Growing Vesterheim

From Strong Roots A Bold Future

Just as Vesterheim began firming up plans for its bold future in early-2020, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Testing the resilience of Vesterheim and many other cultural arts organizations. During this challenging time, the museum’s staff and board took it as an opportunity to reaffirm its mission, set a bold vision, adapt programs, and create added value to extend its reach to many more audiences.

Vesterheim’s bold future depends on healthy and strong roots. Those roots include being in a strong financial position that affords the museum the opportunity to better utilize the campus, increase access to its collection, and offer enticing folk art and enrichment classes.

The Trustees oversee three components of fiscal activity:

Invested assets where appropriate levels of assets are held for current operations, cash reserves, and endowment distribution of $500,000 for operations, self-adjusting for inflation and additional gifts.

Capital and other on-going concern expenditures approved within a rigid protocol of prudent considerations with earmarked funding.

On-going operations where annual planning has expanded to a five-year view, shared here, derived from implementation of the 2020 Vision.

The museum carries no long-term debt and operates within a balanced annual budget.

The Five Focus Areas of the Vision:

The Vision and its focused priorities are the basis of operating projections, as well as the funding goals of the Strong Roots | Bold Future Campaign to Grow Vesterheim.

Become a Destination… all with a continuing elevation and enhancement of the audience experience.

Build an Inter-cultural, Intergenerational Community… characterized by a “radical hospitality” with emphasis on youth and family audiences that connect Scandinavian traditions with today’s lifestyles.

Use the Collection and Folk Art School as Assets… creating meaningful access to the historical treasures and better connecting audience interest, the collection, and folk art offerings.

Create Deep, Rich and Relevant Digital Access…. through boosting on-line access, along with new online exhibitions, and providing a robust interface with the connection and folk art offerings.

Become Known as a National Resource on Immigration… sharing its unique story that continues to have relevance in the national dialog of how individuals become known as “American.”

Operating Projections 2021-2025:

These focus areas and the museum’s on-going programs are the basis for the projections of sustainable operating cash flows for the next five years leading up to the 200th anniversary of the Great Migration of Norwegians to America that began in 1825 with 52 Norwegians aboard the sloop Restauration.

Vesterheim Projected Operating Cash Flow 2021-2025

  1. Contributed Income – unrestricted support for operations through annual fundraising strategies.
  2. Earned Income – anticipates a slow pandemic recovery with trips to Norway, museum admissions, special member-only events, and folk art classes made possible by improved technology capacity.
  3. Program Services Expense – expresses a focus on the value presented in each area to help drive income growth, leveraging the potential benefit from on-line access to programs, exhibitions, classes, and the collection that will provide more visitor options.
  4. Operations Support Expense – as audience reach grows and museum activities add diversity; as cross training and functional depth enhance delivery efficiency; as facility costs reflect added spaces and accelerated use; and as wage levels follow national museum and local Iowa projections for staff breadth and quality.

This plan does not include capital expenses or revenue. Funds for campaign expenses, for developing the Master Plan, and for property purchase are provided through Vesterheim cash reserves. All contributions to the campaign will be directly applied to the construction of Heritage Park and Vesterheim Commons.

For a more detailed breakout of these revenue and expense projections, please contact Diane Wagner, Director of Development at 563-382-9681 ext. 103. or

How You Can Make A Difference


Cash gifts can be made:

Online through the secure  “Donate Now” button above.

Download and complete the campaign Pledge Form (PDF) and return via mail with your
• check or money order made payable to Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum/Campaign, or
• credit/debit card information, or
• direct withdrawal bank account information.

Matching Donations

Many corporations offer matching gift programs. Such programs may allow donors to double or even triple the amount of their contribution. Matching gift forms are available from company personnel or human resource offices.

Appreciated Stocks, Bonds, and Mutual Funds

An alternative to cash is a gift of appreciated securities. Stocks, bonds, and mutual funds owned for more than one year and that have increased in value are popular assets used for charitable giving.  Please consult your financial professional for advice on maximizing your campaign gift plans. A brokerage account transfer form is available from the Development Office or you can download a copy.

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Need Help Now?

If you want to speak to someone about how you can support Vesterheim’s bold new future, call Diane Wagner or Kim Toussaint.

Diane Wagner: 563-382-9681 x103

Kim Toussaint: 563-382-9681 x105

A Re-imagined, Open, and Accessible Heritage Park

The first major project of the Strong Roots | Bold Future campaign is the re-imagining of Heritage Park, the outdoor exhibit and program space for Vesterheim’s 12 historic buildings. Heritage Park opened in summer 2021. Guided by the Snøhetta master plan, Heritage Park has been designed by Damon Farber Landscape Architects to be an accessible and open public space reminiscent of Norway’s forests and glades. Here, people can connect with one another amidst tangible historic buildings set in nature.

Beginning at the plaza that depicts the 1825 voyage of immigrants on the ship Restauration, meandering pathways will guide visitors around gentle glades, past a community amphitheater, and through the expanded parkwhere history comes alive by experiencing how Norwegian pioneers lived.

Special care has been given to create an environmentally sensitive community park with native plantings and woodlands appropriate to this Driftless Area of America’s Midwest, permeable pavers, and sustainable stormwater management.