Box 1347, Minot, ND 58702
See you in 2023

Dr. Marion Nelson


As director of the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum at Decorah, Iowa, Dr. Marion Nelson has contributed greatly to the preservation and advancement of Norwegian heritage and culture.

Dr. Nelson, who is department chairman and a professor in the Art History Department at the University of Minnesota, is the recipient of the “Leif Erikson Citation Award” given to him for his “enthusiastic interest and work in preserving Norwegian heritage and culture and for his outstanding leadership of the Norwegian-American Museum which has resulted in its recognition as one of the finest ethnic museums in the United States.”

Born May 1, 1924, at Fergus Falls, Minn., Marion John Nelson was educated in Minnesota. He received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Minnesota. While studying for his doctorate, he spent one year at the University of Wisconsin and two years at the University in Oslo, Norway.

He also worked in Norway for one year doing research on his thesis: “The Fresco Brothers of Norway, Norwegian Mural Painting from 1918 to 1950.”

He worked as an instructor in the Department of Scandinavian and Art History at the University of Minnesota. He was an assistant professor there from 1959 to 1963 and an associate professor from 1963 to 1971. Since 1971, he has been a professor in the department. He was named director of the Vesterheim in 1965, and chairman of the Department of Art History at the university in 1975.

He has specialized in the areas of art among the Scandinavians in America, American art pottery and Scandinavia’s art.

In 1978 His Majesty, King Olav of Norway, made Nelson a knight in the Royal Order of St. Olav. Nelson has also published several articles, among them “The Art of Norway, 1750-1914: Its Historical Context,” and “The Material Culture and Folk Arts of the Norwegians in America.”

He has acted as chairman of several conferences on Scandinavian topics and is chairman of the scholarship committee for the American Office of the Oslo International Summer School.