Greenland Isn’t for Sale. But You Can Learn About It at the Sól Festival.

The National Nordic Museum's new summer bash focuses on the Arctic region—and marks the opening of photography exhibit, Glacier.

By Stefan Milne August 21, 2019

Peaks by Ragnar Axelsson, part of his exhibition, Glacier, at the Nordic Museum. 

Undeterred, perhaps, by the summer’s buzziest horror movie being about a Swedish summer festival, Ballard’s National Nordic Museum kicks off its first Nordic Sól this week.

Sól is, essentially, an embellished version of Viking Days, the museum’s long-running weekend event that offered food, performances, and games. Sól expands the programing by a couple nights—Thursday, August 22 through Sunday, August 25. It also brings a new focus to the proceedings. “We've been thinking about really transforming our summer festival into something contemporary,” says museum CEO Eric Nelson. The museum decided the way to do this is focusing on a different Nordic region each year. 

First up: the Arctic. Nelson said that region felt especially relevant now. It’s on the frontline of climate change, and the museum wanted to showcase some of the indigenous cultures, which can be eclipsed in a region emphatically connoted with whiteness. To that end, the festival kicks off Thursday night with a Ted Talk–like array of speakers, each giving six minute and 40 second talks on different aspects of Arctic culture and the climate. It also serves as opening night for the museum’s newest exhibition, Glacier, a collection of 12 large-scale polar photographs by Icelandic photographer Ragnar Axelsson.

Friday night brings Circumpolar Hip Hop Collab, young indigenous people rapping in their native languages: Aqqalu Berthelsen from Greenland, Alexia Galloway-Alainga from Canada, Mikkal Morottaja from Finland. “You hear a lot about Scandinavian crime fiction,” Nelson says, “and cinema and death metal, but we don’t hear a lot about Nordic or Arctic hip-hop.”   

The weekend gives way to Inuit Games (a performance of Arctic sports), a marketplace, and a tasting tour (mead, beer, aquavit, and Arctic foods, including fermented shark). Museum admissions are also halved on Saturday and Sunday, so a full price ticket goes for $7.

Nordic Sól
Aug 22–25, National Nordic Museum, Free–$65

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