See also Exhibitions for news about current and upcoming Elverhøj exhibits.
June 18, 2016: On the evening of the first full Moon to fall on the June solstice since the year 1967, the Elverhøj Museum celebrated with one hundred and sixty-five supporters of the Museum, whose mission is to collect, preserve and exhibit the history and Danish culture of Solvang and to promote the arts. The Elverhøj Museum of History & Art held its annual Solstice Sundowner benefit at the beautiful lakeside setting of a vineyard in the Ballard Canyon area. Fire entertainers provided entertainment under a star-filled sky on this unique full-Moon Solstice which will not occur again for 19 years.
Read complete Santa Ynez Valley News article about the event by Mary Ann Norbom, with photo slide show by Eric Isaacs/emiphoto.com. One of his photos is below.
A series of festive events celebrating the treasures of the community. Sip & savor local flavors, revel in dialogue and story, discover and share traditions. No charge for admission.
Join us for an innovative new series of free drop-in art workshops the “Second Saturday” of each month. In addition to the management of the museum, every member of our staff has a personal connection to the arts, which makes our small museum the perfect setting to tap into your creative side! Our executive director has years of experience managing children’s art programs, Megan Linton is a talented illustrator who specializes in children’s book illustrations and Nina Hager has a background in ceramics and art instruction.
Elverhøj Second Saturdays will offer family-friendly fun with hands-on activities using a wide variety of art mediums and themes. Drop in, make art, and take home your new creation. FREE.
Workshops open to all generations, ages 5 and up.
The award-winning Danish choir, considered one of the best girls’ choirs in the world performed in Solvang with the internationally renowned Danish pianist Ms. Katrine Gislinge, Cello Player Yoshika Masuda and conducted by Anne Marie Granau.
The choir, comprised of 33 girls ages 14 to 16, came here between performances in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The homogenous voices of these highly trained girls, accompanied by a world-class soloist and cello player was welcomed by a large audience which filled the Bethania Church March 13, 2016.
The program presented on the Choir’s California tour is the international debut of the flourishing collaboration between Ms. Gislinge and the Copenhagen Girls’ Choir. The artistic collaboration connects the musicianship of a top soloist with young talents representing a unique high-level musical education. The choir is very proud to present this for the first time in the US. Notably, their performance in Solvang featured a World Premiere performance of a spring piece for piano and voice written by Danish composer Bent Sørensen, professor emeritus in composition. His compositions are performed and recorded worldwide.
About the Copenhagen Girls Choir
Through a strong focus on educating children and youth in the choir tradition, this elite ensemble covers a broad repertoire encompassing modern compositions, classical composers and pop songs without losing its musical spark and infectious enthusiasm. The concert, will feature a world premiere: a spring piece for piano and equal voices written by Danish composer Bent Sørensen (b. 1958), Professor Emeritus in composition. His compositions are performed and recorded worldwide, including a recent premier at Carnegie Hall.
The concert also features piano and choral music, both together and separately. The repertoire is French choral and piano music, among others Debussy’s beautiful piece “Salut Printemps.” In addition there will be Danish choral music by composers such as Carl Nielsen and Per Nørgård.
The acclaimed Girls Choir has its home at Sankt Annæ Gymnasium, the Copenhagen Municipal Choir School. Founded in 1973, the choir is under the patronage of H.R.H. Princess Benedikte. It is the resident choir at Helligaandskirken in central Copenhagen (Church of the Holy Spirit). The connection between court, church and school is a centuries old tradition in Denmark and a tradition which the Copenhagen Girls Choir proudly maintains.
The choir recently won four gold level diplomas at international choir competitions in the Czech Republic, Austria and Portugal. Chief conductor Anne Marie Granau graduated from the Royal College of Music in London and the Royal Danish Academy of Music, Copenhagen. She was assistant conductor at the Royal Danish Opera, and has conducted the Copenhagen Philharmonic, The Royal Danish Opera Orchestra and Chorus, Danish National Vocal Ensemble among others.
Elverhøj has arranged for the Copenhagen Girls Choir to include this stop in Solvang while touring the west coast, including arranging all the details of the visit such as food, housing, and a museum and town tour. Cultural exchanges like this visit are a direct result of Elverhøj Executive Director Esther Jacobsen-Bates’ ties with the Danish Embassy.
Many people are familiar with the public space on the main floor of Elverhøj, but may not realize that the upstairs administrative spaces are essential to the functioning of the Museum. Originally built as a studio apartment in the 1950s, the upstairs was living space for extended family and included a kitchenette, living and small storage spaces accessible by both interior and exterior stairs. When the former Brandt-Erichsen home was retrofitted to become a public museum, the upstairs apartment remained intact and became home to the Museum’s first director, his wife and young child. Eventually the space was converted to administrative and collections use. But the kitchen space remained intact, serving also as a collections storage and project work area.
About three years ago it was agreed that it was a priority to renovate and improve the layout and function of the space. In August of 2015 the area was gutted and, just in time for the Christmas Party, construction of the beautiful, functional space was complete.
Multiple grant proposals were written to pay for the much needed updates. Old cabinetry and kitchenette were demolished along with the window seat, and one wall was removed, exposing a large space in the eves. Contractors installed new insulation, drywall, electrical and lights, custom made cabinets, granite countertops, a large sink, dishwasher, under cabinet refrigerator and wine cooler. The “found” space in the eves was transformed into artifact and art storage. The dark, dirty wood floors were sanded and finished. A center work island, under construction, will complete the project. Grant support made these updates go from the drawing table to the realized plans of our now modern work area.
Funding for the upstairs renovation project were received from:
Special Thanks our team of fabulous & skilled contractors:
The upstairs renovation project exposed a critical problem with the heating, air conditioning and ventilation system. Much-needed repairs, completed in the fall, included replacement of duct work which dated back over 25 years. Emergency grants funded this urgent and unexpected need. The HVAC work ensures a clean, healthy indoor environment for people, as well as the Museum exhibits and collections.
The repairs were made possible by generous grants from:
Editor’s Note: The historic hand-crafted structure that houses Elverhøj Museum was the dream home of Viggo Brandt-Erichsen and his wife, Martha (Patt) Mott. He was an internationally recognized painter and sculptor and she was an accomplished painter and art teacher. The Brandt-Erichsens spent more than three years building their home and, in1954, moved in with children Jean, Thor and David. Nancy became part of the family when she married Thor in 1961.
I love coming back to Elverhøj! It always brings a flood of memories. I first visited the family here in 1956 as a teenager when Thor and I started dating. The home continues to be a source of memories of the past, and a current place of family gatherings and learning for our descendants.
Each room holds memories of earlier days, when it was the family home. The kitchen still has the welcoming warmth that evokes memories of family meals and conversations. The table and benches are much as they were then. We all loved smørrebrød (Danish open face sandwiches). Patt had all the makings! She bought leverpostej at Hanly’s and pumpernickel from one of the local bakeries. When Thor and I came to visit she always had pickled herring, cheeses, pickled beets, and sometimes ham or beef. Trays of makings were set out on the table and each proceeded to make their favorite creation. The table was part in the sun, part in the shade and we could hear the birds and enjoy her lovely garden. I took my lunch to the garden on a recent visit to the Museum and I found myself lost in time.
The family living room was large by standards of the 1950s. In the front corner was a lovely baby grand piano. Patt loved music and Jean played several instruments. A number of events and concerts were held in the living room where Museum visitors are now greeted on a daily basis.
The arts thrived in the Brandt-Erichsen home. What a busy place the studio was! In 1953 when Viggo passed, Patt continued her painting, drawing and community classes, spending hours on her own work as well as teaching. There were tables down the sides and center of the studio, with a number of still life set ups. Around the edges were pieces of Viggo’s sculptures in various stages of completeness. Patt had shelves and drawers with art supplies, and paintings on easels, on tables, and in piles. A studio sink allowed for cleaning brushes and other art materials.
“Elverhoy” (the American name of the home) has always been a place where music and the arts flourished. Our family finds great pride and joy in knowing that, as a museum, nearly a quarter million people have entered by Viggo’s handcarved front door to find a vibrant arts community and a thriving historical and cultural home.
With the promise of spring just around the corner, we look forward to 2016 with renewed energy. On behalf of the entire Board of Directors and the Staff of Elverhøj Museum I would like to express deep gratitude for your many contributions to Elverhøj. Your year-round support, participation, and generosity are much needed and much appreciated, and have a tremendous impact in our Museum, the community and beyond.
While in some ways 2015 seems well behind us, many of the upcoming events, activities and exhibitions had their beginnings last year. In March of 2015, about three dozen Danish cultural representatives from around the U.S. gathered at my invitation for a 3-day forum in Solvang. This network of people, known as Cultural Frontrunners, was led by Danish Ambassador Peter Taksøe-Jensen and facilitated by the Embassy of Denmark in Washington, DC and the Consulate in New York City. Guest speakers, workshops and dialogue covered an inspiring range of topics; ranging from new Nordic cuisine to international diplomacy and the arts with the central theme of Danish culture. Inspiration and collaboration grew along with friendships that span the continent and beyond.
One outcome of the Cultural Frontrunners meeting was the establishment of a new series of occasional Elverhøj events called “Danish Modern.” The series launched last spring with an evening of imaginative and occasionally irreverent fun, celebrating Danish food and spirits. Several Danish Modern events take place soon. A March performance by the world renowned Copenhagen Girls Choir at Bethania Lutheran Church, facilitated by contacts at the Danish Embassy and in Denmark, is sure to be a memorable experience for all ages. This is a fine example of the cultural exchange that continues between Solvang and Denmark. And it’s free to all! Then there is a culinary workshop focused on smørrebrød, the versatile Danish open-face sandwich. Get your friends together for a fun and flavorful evening and learn more about Nordic cuisine, both traditional and modern.
Looking towards summer, the Solstice Sundowner benefit party is another Danish Modern event as we celebrate the year’s longest day Danish style while raising funds to support the museum. Tickets for this event sells out quickly, so be sure to get your reservations in early.
At the Museum, attendance continues to grow each year, driven in part by the continued success of our art exhibitions and educational programming. The board of directors and staff work hard to keep the historic building maintained, safe and efficient for the 20,000 visitors who come annually. As Executive Director, I work with a tremendous team of volunteers and staff. We thoroughly enjoy creating a space where the rich talent of the Valley can be on exhibit and enjoyed by many. We often reflect on the past of our institution with appreciation for the family who gave their home to become a museum. We marvel at the positive impacts of Elverhøj in our community, and are inspired by the continued generosity and dedication of our members and supporters.
All in all, it’s shaping up to be another very active and exciting year at Elverhøj. I look forward to seeing you as the year unfolds!
The 56-page book Spirit of Solvang is replete with engaging black and white images of this Danish colony in California. The 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 pays tribute to the rich cultural history and heritage of the town’s 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
So begins a DVD screening in Elverhøj’s Solvang Room and 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.
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.