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The Seattle Nordic Museum could become the National Nordic Museum

The newly reopened Ballard museum is getting national attention

Courtesy of the Nordic Heritage Museum

Update, June 6: The bill to designate the Nordic Museum as the National Nordic Museum has passed the Senate, Senator Maria Cantwell’s office announced Wednesday. The legislation now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Original article, May 17:

Everything’s coming up Nordic Museum. Earlier this month, the 40-year-old attraction, previously the Nordic Heritage Museum, finally got a home built especially for it—and United States Senator Maria Cantwell, who represents Seattle, introduced legislation to give the museum national designation.

Thursday, the legislation passed though the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and will be heading to the full Senate.

The museum, founded in a schoolhouse in Ballard in 1980 and now occupying a new, 57,000-square-foot facility, has been a mainstay of the neighborhood, which was built by Nordic immigrants—and, according to the bill text, it’s the only museum exclusively celebrating Nordic culture in the country.

“The Nordic Museum serves as a unique and valuable resource locally and nationally for expand ing knowledge relating to (a) Nordic heritage and (b) the impact Nordic heritage has had throughout the United States,” reads the bill text.

“Not only does this museum preserve 12,000 years of Nordic history, emphasizing maritime and fishing heritage, but it also focuses on innovation and the future,” said Cantwell in a statement.

The bill also refers to the new facility, designed by architecture firm Mithun, as justification for the national designation for “making Nordic history, culture, and art even more engaging and accessible to the public.”

“We appreciate [Cantwell’s] leadership on this bill,” said museum CEO Eric Nelson in a statement. “In addition to history, our goal is to bring to life for all visitors the arts, culture, and social values that define the Nordic region today, such as openness, social justice, innovation and connection to nature which are universal and more important than ever.”