A Decorah couple, Duane and Eileen Bruening, have donated $25,000 to The Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum.
The money will be used to turn a portion of the first floor of the museum's Westby-Torgerson Education Center into the Bruening Visitor Center.
The Bruening family has long been among Vesterheim's most ardent promoters. For several years running they sponsored free admission to the museum's annual Christmas celebration. According to Duane Bruening, their support springs from the belief that the museum is a local, state, and national treasure that everyone—not just those of Norwegian descent—can enjoy. "All immigrant groups who settled America share the same basic story and you don't have to be Norwegian to appreciate the folk art, paintings, textiles, and all the other wonderful objects and programs at Vesterheim."
"We hope that, because of the Visitor Center, people will visit often, stay longer, and explore more," Eileen Bruening added.
Work on the new Visitor Center is scheduled to begin shortly and will be completed in time for a grand opening event later this spring.