The Elverhøj Museum of History and Art, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, is located in the former home of internationally recognized painter and sculptor Viggo Brandt-Erichsen and his wife, accomplished painter and art teacher Martha Mott.
Construction began in 1950 on the home handcrafted by the couple in the style of the large farmhouses of 18th century Jutland in northern Denmark.
When the couple decided they wanted it preserved, they donated it to the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Society.
Later, the city of Solvang assumed ownership and maintenance of the structure, while the nonprofit Solvang Heritage Associates operated the museum. Eventually, the city turned the property over to the nonprofit organization.
After extensive renovation, it opened as the Elverhøj Museum in May 1988 with the mission of collecting, preserving and displaying the history and Danish culture of Solvang as well as promoting the arts.
“Elverhøj” — pronounced “Elverhoy” — is the title of Denmark’s most famous folk play, written in 1828, and translates as “elves on a hill.”
The play tells the story of a king’s visit to the night world of a dancing female wood-spirit and her forest friends, and a depiction of the wood spirit by Brandt-Erichsen was the pattern for the carving on the redwood front door to the museum.