Rourke Art Museum 


Now that we are faced with darker, shorter days and soon-to-be-dropping temperatures, I have started looking for things to do that keep me inside. Summers in Minnesota are meant to be lived outside and I save anything indoors for the chillier months. With that, I found the Rourke Art Museum in Moorhead to keep me warm and cultured.

Affectionately referred to as “Rourke” and established in June of 1960, the museum was founded as an art gallery by James O’Rourke. The Rourke Art Museum has been a mainstay in the the Moorhead-Fargo area for more than 50 years. Housed in the historic 1913 Federal Courthouse building, designed by federal architect Oscar Wenteroth as the Moorhead Federal Post Office. The building opened to the public in 1915, and served as the Post Office until 1960, when it became the Moorhead City Office Building. Since 1966, it has been home to the Red River Art Center, the Plains Art Museum and now the Rourke Art Gallery Museum. The neoclassical building,  with original architectural details like the exterior front columned portico and an interior marble staircase, is the last remaining majestic building in downtown Moorhead from its early history.

The Rourke has been been community art institution with many of the region’s most celebrated artists represented in its exhibits. The Museum’s permanent collection of more than 4,000 art works.Temporary exhibitions at the Museum and its sister entity, the Rourke Art Gallery in Moorhead, showcase work by local and regional artists.

Fun fact; there is a buffalo sculpture on its steps that is painted to look like Vincent Van Gogh, a bandage around his ear and all!

Junkyard Brewing Company

When it comes to beer, I go for the unique, funky, borderline bizarre. The more colorful, bold, aptly named, the better. This is where Junkyard Brewing Company in Moorhead comes in. The nanobrewery, founded in 2012, specializes in experimental beer styles and offers favorite brews such as Hatchet Jack, Whistle Wetter and Coal Miner’s Daughter. That, along with live music every night, explains why it’s the perfect road trip stop.


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The Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center

The Hjemkomst, meaning homecoming in Norwegian, is a handmade replica of a burial Viking ship called the Gokstad that was discovered in Norway in 1880. The Gokstad had been unearthed from a burial mound near Sandefjord, Norway and was dated back to 800 AD. It served as the inspiration to Robert Asp, a guidance counselor at Moorhead Junior High School. He was gifted a few books about Vikings and after reading them, decided to build a ship of his own that he dreamed of sailing to Olso, Norway on in honor of his Nordic heritage. He began work on Hjemkomst in 1974 at the Leslie Welter Potato Warehouse in Hawley, Minnesota – which is coincidentally today’s stop. The Potato Warehouse became the Hawley Shipyard. Asp was diagnosed with leukemia, and later died from it before it was completed, but chose to continue to work on his dream. In July of 1980, the ship was sent to Duluth to begin its journey.

After much work and preparation, in May 1982, Asp’s three sons and daughter along with eight crew members decided to set sail. They arrived in Bergen, Norway in July and were given a heroes welcome. The ship stayed in Oslo for a year and was taken back to Minnesota and is now permanently housed in the center of the museum.  The Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center, commonly known as the Hjemkomst Center, was first opened in 1985 and was donated to the City of Moorhead and placed on display. 

My story-telling ability isn’t doing this justice. It is hard to describe the presence, what it represents to the people that saw this unattainable dream come true. It is nothing short of amazing.

 The Hjemkomst Center also has another handmade piece of history on display. In the backyard, The Hopperstad Stave Church Replica, a replica of a Norwegian stave church, was built in 1998 by Guy Paulson and was constructed of cedar, redwood, and pine. It is a full-scale replica of the 12th Century Hopperstad Stave Church in Vik, Norway.

In 2009, the Clay County Historical Society (which was founded in 1932) and the Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center merged to form the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County.


Follow along by checking out #MNBucketListRoadTrip and #InntoWin on hereFacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Learn more about AmericInn’s Fill in to Win Giveaway!