Reason alone to come to Ballard – if the culinary scene and waterside parks weren’t enough – is this delightful surprise of a museum dedicated to Nordic history and culture. In 2018 the museum upgraded in size from its original location in a historic schoolhouse to a newly constructed and fjord-inspired building. Its collections and temporary exhibits (usually an additional $5) represent a hugely accomplished collection of stories, artifacts and other assorted treasures from the recent and distant past.
Exhibits offer a fairly even showcase for each Nordic country: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland, as well as Nordic territories such as Greenland and the far northerly tribal lands of the Sámi people. Before its move the museum mostly focused on Nordic immigrant communities in the Ballard neighborhood and the rest of the Pacific Northwest and was called the Nordic Heritage Museum. Much of that information still remains in a large exhibit dedicated to Nordic immigration to the USA.
The museum also acts as a heritage center and has regular readings, events and temporary exhibitions from Nordic Americans in the Ballard/Seattle community. In August you can partake in the Nordic Sól festival, which happens all over Ballard, but is headquartered at the museum. There's also a fabulous cafe on site.