Nordic Museum

Top choice in Ballard & Discovery Park

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.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Ballard & Discovery Park attractions

1. Carl English Jr Botanical Gardens

0.27 MILES

On the northern bank of Hiram M Chittenden Locks is this charming arboretum and specimen garden. Trails wind through gardens filled with flowers and…

3. Hiram M Chittenden Locks

0.33 MILES

Seattle shimmers like an impressionist painting on sunny days at the Hiram M Chittenden Locks. Here, the fresh waters of Lake Washington and Lake Union…

4. Ballard Building

0.33 MILES

Ballard’s only major terracotta structure was built in the 1920s by the Fraternal Order of Eagles. It once held a community hospital and now houses shops,…

5. Portland Building

0.35 MILES

A great example of the decorative brickwork that graces many of the buildings along Ballard Ave, the Portland Building has housed all kinds of businesses…

6. Commemorative Bell Tower

0.35 MILES

On the corner of Ballard Avenue NW and 22nd Ave is the original location of Ballard City Hall, sometimes called ‘Hose Hall,' which also contained the jail…

7. Bergen Place Park

0.36 MILES

In case you forget where you are or the origin of the settlers to whom Ballard owes its existence, a quintet of flags fly over diminutive Bergen Place…

8. GS Sanborn Building

0.41 MILES

The GS Sanborn Building is Ballard’s only example of Romanesque architecture, a style that was popular on the East Coast in the 1880s. It has a sandstone…