Harmony Area Historical Society

Gausta Exhibit

The Gausta Exhibit is open daily 10 am - 4 pm (11 - 3 Sundays) during the Tourism Season (May - October) as well as most Wednesdays 9 am - noon.

Herbjorn Gausta has been described as the first Norwegian-American professional artist in the United States. Herbjørn Gausta was born on the Gausta farm in Vestfjørddalen, Telemark, Norway, June 16, 1854. In 1867 he emigrated to America with his parents and four sisters, settling on a farm near Harmony, Minnesota. 

Gausta based his studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota, living there from 1888 until his death. He supported himself by painting portraits of prominent Norwegian-American individuals and about 400 altar paintings for Norwegian-American churches. Gausta's landscape and genre paintings from his early years were well-received as well. He even painted copies of master works of art for additional revenue. His sketchbooks indicate that he could draw superior caricatures. In 1889, Gausta's studio caught fire. He lost 100 of his early works. Gausta died on May 22, 1924 in Minneapolis at the Deaconess Hospital. After a funeral service at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, he was buried in Harmony, Minnesota. In 1927, a granite monument over sixteen feet in height was erected to his memory. 

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