The Nordic Museum has excellent exhibits in a stunning new architectural building.
The Nordic Museum is 20 minutes north of downtown Seattle, in the bustling neighborhood of Ballard.
Learn the amazing 12,000 year history of Nordic history from the Stone Age onwards!
Seattle's Ballard neighborhood has deep Scandinavian roots, and the Nordic Museum pays homage to the immigrants that shaped this area.
10 best things at the Nordic Museum
1. See fascinating household goods and artifacts from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Sapmi.
2. Step inside the small cinema on the main floor to watch the thought provoking movie, What does it mean to be Nordic?
Learn about the incredible resilience of the Nordic people, and their deep affinity for the landscape and desire to protect it for future generations.
3. Go upstairs to The Nordic Journeys exhibition on the 12,000 year history of Nordic countries.
Start at the Stone Age era 12,000 years ago at the Venturing North exhibit (10,000 BC to 1,100 AD), when the northern Nordic regions were first settled by hunters and gatherers who later became farmers and fisherman.
In the next 600 years, monarchies ruled Denmark, Norway and Sweden during the Middle Ages and Early Modern Era (1100 to 1700).
During the next 200 year period, the Nordic Museum shows how absolute monarchies weakened and democratic ideals took hold in the Enlightenment and Age of Democracy (1700 to 1900).
The final era was Modernity and Globalization (1901 to 1999), that marked the rise of the welfare state and socialism in Nordic countries. From the 1940s onwards there was a wave of Nordic immigration to the US.
4. See authentic Viking artifacts at the Nordic Museum, like jewelry, headgear, combs, and grooming implements.
5. View the contents of a 9th century Norwegian Viking grave, including a single-edged sword, spear, and scissors.
6. See a model of the famous Viking Oseberg Ship at the Nordic Museum.
The Nordic Museum has a scale model of the Viking Oseberg Ship. The famous Oseberg Ship was estimated to have been buried since 834 AD, until it was dug up nearly three thousand years later in 1904.
The ship was found remarkably intact in a burial mound near a farm in Oseberg, Norway. The remains of two women in their 80s and 50s were buried with the ship, and it's speculated the woman in her 80's was a queen!
The 71-foot Oseberg has oar holes for 30 rowers. Look at the beautiful carvings on the bow and stern.
7. See the fun exhibition on Scandinavian designed furniture at the Nordic Museum. Do you recognize some of these timeless pieces?
8. Visit the amazing Forest and Water Cinema on the second level, with incredible cinematography of the Nordic landscape.
The mountain and ocean footage at this cinema, is so breathtaking you feel the urge to immediately book a trip to one of these countries. Relax on pillows that are fashioned as river stones, surrounded by tree trunks that are scattered throughout the cinema space at the Nordic Museum.
9. Stop by the gift shop to find unique gifts, like classic Nordic sweets, books, and handcrafts, Royal Copenhagen porcelain, and home goods from Danish designers like Retap, George Jensen, and Iittala.
10. Enjoy coffee and delicious meals at Freya Cafe. Museum admission is not required!
Know before you go
- Nordic Museum address: 2655 NW Market Street, Seattle, WA 98107.
- Tickets & hours. Check here.
- Parking: Paid parking lot behind the building. Remember your stall number before paying at the machine.
- Temporary exhibitions. Check here.
- Cafe: Yes.
Fun things to do near the Nordic Museum
The Nordic Museum is within walking distance of historic Ballard, with a huge selection of restaurants and shops.
It's also a short drive to stunning Golden Gardens Park, with a sandy beach and panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains.
On the way to Golden Gardens, stop at the Ballard Locks to see ships passing from Seattle's freshwater lakes to saltwater Puget Sound. There's an excellent visitor center there documenting the history of the Locks. Don't miss the fish ladder where you can see salmon swimming upstream from June to September.
Other cultural museums in Seattle
Visit the Wing Luke Museum in China Town that documents the experiences of Asian-American immigrants in Seattle.
The MOHAI in South Lake Union is also a must-see with fantastic exhibits on the history of Seattle.