Ralph Appelbaum Associates

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National Nordic Museum

Seattle, Washington

National Nordic Museum_2

The National Nordic Museum is devoted to the culture, history, and shared values of the five Nordic countries—Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland—and their impact on the United States. The museum represents a unique platform for visitors to reflect, engage, and respond to expressions of Nordic culture and Nordic America.

National Nordic Museum_4
National Nordic Museum_4

RAA was tasked with creating a core exhibition for the museum’s new building. It would trace 12,000 years of Nordic history and centuries of Nordic American immigrants’ stories through a collection of 77,000 items. These stories are rooted in the history of the Nordic region and extend to Nordic American communities across the country and, specifically, in the Pacific Northwest.

National Nordic Museum Interior

The concept of a journey across time and space is central to the experience. It is embedded directly in the architectural framework. Visitors embark on their journey in the museum’s central Fjord Hall, then ascend to the second floor’s core exhibitions, which lie on either side of the central hall. Bridges between the Nordic Region and Nordic America galleries become the connective link between the two core exhibit experiences and create moments where visitors can pause and look down onto the grand sweep of Fjord Hall.

National Nordic Museum 5
National Nordic Museum 7
National Nordic Museum 7

The museum aims to provide a new lens on the immigration experience: a portrait of America as both mosaic and melting pot. It focuses equally on the countries of origin, the experience of immigrants, and their impact on American society, culture and politics—creating a framework and platform for ongoing dialogue and exchange with Nordic countries.

Size 22,500 square feet

Year 2018

Architect MithunJuhani Pallasmaa

AwardsBuildy Design Award: WinnerGraphis Design Annual: Gold

National Nordic Museum