The American Dream of Norway

Their ancestors came to America to give their families a better life. Now young Norwegian Americans dream of the old country.

In this exhibit, you will meet young adult Norwegian Americans from Seattle. They share their views on the societies of Norway and the United States, as evidenced by their own Norwegian descent and American upbringing.

What does Norway mean to Norwegian Americans today? How is a young person linked to a legacy and a past so far away, both in time and distance?

Seattle was one of the cities where many Norwegians settled during the last wave of emigration from Norway, which lasted all the way up to the 1960s. Much has changed since hundreds of thousands of Norwegians traveled across the ocean to the promised land of America. After Norway found oil, most of the emigration stopped.

The ancestors of most of those interviewed in this exhibition traveled from a relatively poor Norway, hoping to find something better. Now, the standard of living in the United States is lower than in Norway. How does this affect the longing for Norway in young Norwegian Americans?

Does Norwegian heritage play a political role? Many of those interviewed are enthusiastic about the Norwegian social structure and the Norwegian welfare state's programs, but not all of them. What is common to all is the feeling that Norway means something to them. Everyone holds a vision and a dream about Norway that they keep alive in different ways.

What is typically Norwegian for a Norwegian American? What can the people of Norway learn about themselves and “Norwegian culture” through the eyes of the Norwegian Americans? “The American dream of Norway” links the history of the emigration to today's American society. The exhibition will tour Norway and be online in 2020, the same year as the U.S. presidential election.