'Gifts from Norway' Fifth annual Knut Gjerset lecture March 26

The fifth annual Knut Gjerset lecture, "Gifts from Norway," will be presented by Laurann Gilbertson, chief curator of the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 26, in the Recital Hall of the Center for Faith and Life on the Luther College campus.

            A reception will follow the lecture in Qualley Lounge of the Center for Faith and Life. The lecture and reception are open to the public with no charge for admission.

            Gilbertson will speak about Vesterheim's origin at Luther and about more than 200 artifacts that were sent as gifts in the 1920s and 30s from Norwegian museums. One of the "Gifts from Norway" Gilbertson will present on is a spouted ale tankard from Vågå in Gudbrandsdal, dated 1736. It was sent from De Sandvigske Samlinger in Lillehammer to Decorah in 1927 as part of a large group of gifts from Norwegian museums.

            Gilbertson holds a bachelor's degree in anthropology and a master's degree in textiles and clothing from Iowa State University. She has worked at the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum for 23 years, where she started as Textile Curator and is now Chief Curator.

            Gilbertson has had several works published recently including a chapter about Norway with Carol Colburn in the "Encyclopedia of National Dress: Traditional Clothing around the World," an essay on immigrant textile production in "Norwegian American Women: Migration, Communities and Identities" and several articles for "Vesterheim" and "Piecework" magazines.

            The lecture, sponsored by Luther's Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Linguistics (Nordic Studies), honors former Luther Professor Knut Gjerset. Gjerset served as a professor of history and Norwegian at Luther from 1902 to his retirement in 1934. He also worked as curator of the collection that would later become the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum. He held the titles Knight of the First Class of St. Olav from the Norwegian Government and Knight of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon from King Christian X of Iceland.

            Born in Norway and raised on a farm in Minnesota, Gjerset was a significant scholar of Norwegian and Icelandic history. His publications include "History of Norwegian People," History of Iceland" and "Norwegian Sailors on the Great Lakes."

            Since its founding in 1861, Luther has been heavily steeped in the roots of its Norwegian founders. From Norwegian treats in the Admissions office to visits from Norwegian royalty, Luther remains dedicated to engaging with its cultural heritage and educating both students and the community on Norwegian culture and history.

Laurann Gilbertson