Elverhøj logo Elverhøj Museum of History and ArtElverhøj Museum  
The History of Solvang, the Heritage of Denmark  
 
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ABOUT THE ELVERHØJ MUSEUM

MISSION STATEMENT

To collect, preserve and exhibit the history and
Danish culture of Solvang and to promote the arts.

THE BUILDING

Located in Solvang, California, the Elverhøj Museum is the former residence of one of Solvang’s most artistic families, which is now a community museum devoted to the history of Solvang, the Danish-American pioneer spirit, the colorful heritage of Denmark, and the arts.

Elverhøj Museum CourtyardThe historic hand-crafted structure was the dream home of Viggo Brandt-Erichsen and his wife, Martha Mott. He was an internationally recognized painter and sculptor and she was an accomplished painter and art teacher. In 1950 the Brandt-Erichsens began building their home in the style derived from the large farmhouses of 18th century Jutland in northern Denmark. They incorporated many elements of Scandinavian architecture. Ornamental wrought ironwork, a carved redwood main entry door, and hand-painted panels are a few of the permanent imprints of this remarkable family. After extensive renovation in 1987, the Elverhøj Museum opened to the public in May of 1988. Today Elverhøj is one of the few museums outside of Denmark devoted to the Danish culture and the Danish-American experience.

THE NAME

Hand-carved Elverhøj front doorThe name “Elverhøj” is pronounced “Elverhoy” (as spelled in its English version). It was taken from Denmark’s most famous folk play, “Elverhøj,” written in 1828. The play is still performed today. Translated as “elves on a hill,” the story involves a kings’s visit to the night world of the dancing female wood-spirits and her forest friends. Elverhøj was first performed in Solvang in 1914.

The graphic depiction of Elverhøj was designed by Viggo Brandt-Erichsen. The artwork was used as a pattern to create the redwood carving on the front door of the Museum and now has become the logotype for the Museum (seen at the upper left of each web page).


THE BOARD

When the Brandt-Erichsen family wanted to preserve their home, Elverhoy, as a museum, they initially donated it to the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Society. Later, the City of Solvang took over the ownership and maintenance of the physical facilities, while the non-profit Solvang Heritage Associates and the Executive Director operated the Museum. This worked well until the City began experiencing budget shortfalls and maintenance began to suffer. Negotiations eventually resulted in the transfer of ownership and maintenance of Elverhøj to the Solvang Heritage Associates in June of 2007. Our volunteer Board consists of:

  • A. Art Kaslow, D.D.S., President
  • Russel Radom, Vice President
  • Chris Nielsen, Treasurer
  • Lisa W. Pedersen, Secretary
  • James Bertero
  • Erik Gregerson
  • Dr. Kenneth Harwood
  • Elizabeth Jensen
  • Glenda Madrid

VOLUNTEERING AND MEMBERSHIP

The volunteers at Elverhøj extend gratitude for all of your support and invite you to visit and experience Elverhøj’s warm and welcoming vitality.

The key elements of Elverhøj’s success are volunteers, committees, and membership. Volunteers are involved in all operations and events at Elverhøj. This energized group of more than 65 people contributes time and talent on a regular basis. Committee members guide and assist with education, finance, maintenance of facilities, fundraising, special events, art exhibits, history, the Museum Store, and more. They cannot be thanked enough for their valuable contributions!
 
Membership dues provide the basis for our annual operating income and are the financial backbone for all programs and services. Each membership makes a difference — especially in today’s challenging economic climate.

DocentsOver 30 volunteer docents assist some 15,000 visitors annually! Docents are the Museum’s welcoming face and informed voice.  We invite you to join this enthusiastic group of volunteers. All you need is an appreciation of history, Danish culture and/or art and people. You dont need to know Solvang’s history before volunteering. We have handbooks, videos, and an array of exhibits that will teach you all that you want to know. You will have the support of an experienced team of docents as well as staff to help you. Docent outings (such as pictured here to Old Mission Santa Barbara) are offered on a regular basis as a token of gratitude as well as to foster camaraderie and the lifelong learning spirit of Attertag College.

Our doors stay open because of the dedication and reliability of our docents. Most docents come to the Museum two or three days a month, volunteering for shifts from two to four hours. Some of our docents especially enjoy teaming up with a friend. Many also volunteer at artist receptions, school tours, and other special events. As you can see from the number of visitors above, we can always use more docents!

Work party helps with paintingA volunteer Buildings and Grounds Committee has been formed to assist with maintenance and improvement projects. It holds monthly work parties that are getting many of the small chores done. Larger needs are being met by outside contractors.

The Elverhøj Board would greatly appreciate more volunteers, particularly from the trades, to help with these chores.

The Craft Committee promotes Elverhøj’s mission by fashioning special items for display and sale in the Museum Store, and by providing crafting lessons and high-quality materials to work with, some of which come from Scandinavia.

Craft Committee Handmade items may include “Jule Nisser” (traditional Danish Christmas elves), paper stars, woven hearts, needlepoint cones, tiny crocheted scarves, and more. It is with great pride that Elverhøj offers the opportunity to participate in learning Danish crafts, preserving a little history, and enjoying a morning with friends and fellow crafters here at the Museum. The Craft Committee meets the first Wednesday of the month, between 10 am and noon, in the Museum Gallery. Registration is encouraged, but drop-ins are welcome.

If you’d like to become a docent, or volunteer in some other capacity, please contact us at (805) 686-1211 or send an email to info@elverhoj.org.  We look forward to welcoming you to our team!

EDUCATION AND OUTREACH

Solvang School classPeople travel from across the country and even the world to visit Elverhøj. Closer to home, many school students come to Elverhøj to learn about their community. Pictured here are Solvang School students from Mrs. Bisbee’s second grade class during a visit to Elverhøj.
 
Education is always a priority at Elverhøj. We like the local schools to use the Museum to their benefit. We enjoy educating children and working with teachers. School and youth groups are given special tours and provided with fun and informative activities.
 
Museum exhibits include historical information and artifacts necessary to meet many different California Content Standards for various grades.  In years past, Elverhøj had teaching professionals carefully develop standards-based curricula for third and tenth grades. In addition, activities and handouts have been designed specifically for students and families.
 
Please call the Museum to set up a free, private tour for your class or group: 686-1211.

ELVERHØJ “SPIRIT OF SOLVANG” BOOK CELEBRATES SOLVANG CENTENNIAL

Spirit of SolvangDuring Solvang’s Centennial year in 2011, the Elverhøj Museum published a book, Spirit of Solvang: Capturing the Past in Photographs, drawing on photos and historical information from its archives. The 56-page book is replete with engaging black and white images of Solvang. These carefully restored images document Solvang’s story from its founding to its transition to a Danish-themed downtown. Informative text gives readers an overall view of Solvang’s development, as well as fascinating tidbits of local history.  The book celebrates Solvang’s Centennial by paying tribute to the rich cultural history and heritage of its Danish pioneers.

Elverhøj is very grateful to Paul Roark, who expertly and lovingly restored the photographs; to Joan Mitchell, who wrote and edited text; to Ann Dittmer, who tirelessly did research and checked facts; and to the Wood-Claeyssens Foundation and Nancy Brandt-Erichsen for granting funds for printing and design expenses. Thanks are also due to Museum volunteers, especially the History Committee and Photo ID Committee (a.k.a. the “White Glove Gang”). Over the years they have expanded the Museum collection by organizing, identifying, and conserving numerous images.

The book is available for purchase in the Museum Store for $17.50. Special orders are welcomed. Please phone (805) 686-1211 or email info@elverhoj.org.

ELVERHØJ DVD CHRONICLES SOLVANG HISTORY

Danes are curious people. When they immigrated to America they often kept in touch with each other. When a group of Danes found a good place to farm and live they told others to come join them. Such a place is Solvang, California. . . .

Solvang DVDSo begins an Elverhøj-produced DVD which screens in Elverhøj’s Solvang Room and is available in the Museum Store for $15. Entitled Solvang, Danish Colony in California, it tells the fascinating history of a little town that grew into an internationally-known tourist destination.
 
Personal interviews bring to life the pioneering Danish families that made Solvang flourish. These early settlers had a great capacity for work, but also for enjoyment. When times were tough they persevered and helped one another. They came to love their new home, but always treasured their Danish background. Priceless old photographs and more contemporary images supplement their rich oral history.
 
June Christensen, Elverhøj board member, was the executive producer and researcher on this project. People interviewed include: Elise Lindegaard Bates, Thor Brandt-Erichsen, Harlan Burchardi, Elisa Larsen Duus, Erik Gregersen, Leona Ibsen, Regina Iversen, Ivo Nedegaard Jacobsen, Marie Tarnow Jaeger, Florence (Flossie) Jensen, Eiler Johansen, Anker Johnson, Monica Fauerso Kramer, Elna Larsen, Daryl Nielsen, Donald Nielsen, Kathryn Iversen Nielsen, Roger Nielsen, Edna Paaske, Abeline Jensen Petersen, Robert Petersen, William Petersen, Else Jensen Statom, Marian Johnson Walker, Gerda Svendsen Willis, Lucille Wulff, and Viggo Richard Wulff.
 
An informative narration by videographer Bent Myggen sets these interviews in context. Myggen also did camera work, editing and production. Funding for the DVD project came from the Santa Barbara Foundation, The Valley Foundation, and private donors.
 
To order the Solvang, Danish Colony in California DVD for $15, email info@elverhoj.org or call the Museum at 805-686-1211. This will be a keepsake to treasure and an imaginative gift for family and friends.

ELVERHØJ’S HISTORIC PHOTO COLLECTION

Elverhøj’s photographs come primarily from generous private donors. People have given one or two images and whole family albums, studio portraits and amateur Brownie snapshots, glass negatives and modern color photos.

Because we live in a digital age, precious and sometimes fragile photographs can now be quickly scanned and returned safely to their owners. Without such valuable donations, Elverhøj could not preserve the history of Solvang for others to enjoy and appreciate.

Click to DownloadMUSEUM BROCHURE

The Elverhøj brochure was redesigned in 2008 for a fresh, new look. There are updated photos and expanded text relating the history of Solvang. Special thanks to Rob Jensen Art Direction Design, members of the Santa Ynez Valley Camera Club, and our sponsors: The Valley Foundation, The Wood-Claeyssens Foundation, and Solvang Rotary Foundation.

Click to DownloadDownload the museum brochure

PROPOSALS FOR ART GALLERY EXHIBITIONS

The Elverhøj Museum of History and Art encourages art exhibition proposal submissions from individual artists and artist groups. The guidelines are intended to help expedite the review of these submissions by insuring that each proposal is as complete as possible. Proposals for exhibitions at the Elverhøj must include both written and visual components.

A copy of the artist proposal guidelines is available for download.

Click to DownloadArtist Exhibition Proposal Procedures PDF (or DOC version)
Click to DownloadArtist GROUP Exhibition Proposal Procedures PDF (or DOC version)

Weddings at Elverhoj

WEDDINGS AT ELVERHØJ

The historic building and carefully manicured cottage gardens provide a beautiful backdrop for intimate weddings.  The garden with its abundant year-round blooms and corner gazebo creates a lovely setting for any wedding party. The bell in its stately tower can chime, marking the presentation of the newly married couple.

The garden area comfortably accommodates up to 150 guests. Call (805) 686-1211 for information about availability and the reasonable rates. 

 
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