Greenland focus of exhibit opening Saturday at Solvang museum
Constant daylight bathes the island nation for days, weeks or months on end from May through July.
The soft, warm rays from the low-lying sun cast a surreal palette of pink, purple, yellow and red on icebergs and hilltops.
Known for its glaciers and ice, Greenland also has layers of culture and history that date back 4,500 years.
Stunning photographs of the island’s vast Arctic terrain, its people and its culture will be on display in the exhibition, “Greenland — Land of the Midnight Sun,” from Saturday through Sept. 18 at the Elverhøj Museum of History & Art in Solvang.
A reception, free and open to the public, will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. May 14.
“While interacting with the exhibition, viewers will learn more about the vast Greenland ice sheet, which is up to two miles thick and covers more than 80 percent of the island. The ice sheet and Ilulissat Glacier on Greenland’s west coast – the fastest moving glacier in the world – are often included in conversations about the global climate system,” said Esther Jacobsen Bates,
executive director of the museum and exhibit curator.
Located in North America near Canada, Greenland is the world’s largest island. Contrary to its name, it’s not very green, and it is covered in ice.
“Due to its location and climate, Greenland is the least populated place in the world,” said Ms. Bates. “The majority of the population is Inuit or mixed Danish and Inuit. The resulting culture is historically diverse and beautifully connected to the land.”
The exhibition was created in collaboration with the Environmental Alliance of Santa Barbara County Museums. Formed in 2020, the alliance is a collective of 14 institutions with one shared purpose: to explore the impacts of climate change through art, history, science or nature.
Elverhøj is taking part in this first-of-its-kind collaboration. Exhibits and activities through September aim to inform, inspire and prompt action.
“Greenland seemed like a good fit for this museum as Greenland remains a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, although the island’s home-rule government is responsible for most domestic affairs. Lots more info can be found in the panels I produced to support the images on view,” said Ms. Bates. “My contacts at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Denmark’s Embassy in Washington, D.C., Greenland representation at the Embassy, and Visit Greenland all provided information and materials.”
Elverhøj Museum of History & Art, 1624 Elverhoy Way, is the cultural hub of Solvang with a triple focus: documenting the history of Solvang, celebrating Danish culture and the Danish-American immigrant experience and promoting fine art and artists.
Exhibits throughout the museum’s rooms and galleries highlight these three elements, as does the building itself, intertwined with its architecture and ornamentation. For more than 30 years, the museum has been a treasured gem, providing greater understanding and appreciation for the story of Solvang and of the people and ideas who shaped its history and present-day lifestyle.
“Greenland is majestic — and so important,” said Ms. Bates. “What happens in Greenland affects people everywhere. It plays an important role in the global climate system. The immense ice sheet, which covers 81% of the island, serves as an air conditioner for the world as it helps to regulate global temperatures.
“Scientists study the amount of sea ice forming and melting every year as an indicator of the condition of the climate. Most of us are familiar with the term climate change. For many of us, it’s something that we simply see in the news, with environmental conditions setting new records: ‘the warmest,’ ‘the wettest,’ ‘the driest.’ In Greenland, climate change is an undeniable fact of everyday life.”