Elverhoj Museum reopens with exhibit of artist’s etchings
Elverhoj Museum of History and Art in Solvang has reopened with Rembrandt’s help.
Visitors can enjoy the return of the gallery exhibition, “Legacy of Decency: Rembrandt, Jews and Danes.” A heralded collection of 21 etchings by Dutch master Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669) is paired with displays about the Danish World War II rescue of their Jewish population.
The museum has reopened with new, modified public walk-in hours from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Monday.
In addition, the museum is offering early-hour appointments from 10 to 11 a.m. Friday through Sunday. This hour away from the general public is for those who are immunocompromised or have special needs and for members in appreciation for their support.
During the extended closure due to COVID, exhibition spaces about the history and heritage of Solvang were updated and reimagined to enhance the visitor experience and better enable safety. As per the public health department’s requirements, face masks will be mandatory for entrance, and physical distancing will be practiced.
The museum’s Rembrandt exhibition links people, time and place through artwork and action with a legacy created by neighbors who cared for, and about, one another.
“The humanity Rembrandt expressed in his artwork continues to resonate today, nearly 400 years later,” said Esther Jacobsen Bates, executive director at the museum and exhibit curator. “The exhibition originally opened Feb. 29, 2020, and had only been on view for two weeks before the COVID shutdown. It returned for two weekends in November and has been patiently waiting. We are excited to again welcome visitors and share the experience.”
The etchings highlight Rembrandt’s nuanced relationship with Amsterdam’s Jewish citizens. They are detailed and intimate, much like the artist’s relationship with his subjects, many of whom were neighbors and friends. The art is from the collection of Howard and Fran Bergers’ gift to Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art.
“Rembrandt’s achievements as an etcher are characterized by the new and innovative techniques he introduced to printmaking. His legacy of decency is displayed in the emotional and psychological depth given to his Jewish subjects: expressive faces, dramatic body language and bold use of shadow and light combine with his mastery as a printmaker. This is a rare opportunity to get an up close view of the exquisite work,” said Ms. Bates.
“The concept of caring is also found in janteloven — the unofficial Danish law for ‘no one is better than the other.’ The janteloven principle that everyone is accepted and equal plays a key part in Danish culture and mentality as was exemplified by the remarkable and uplifting story of the Danish WWII resistance.
“Posters from the Danish Museum of Resistance in Copenhagen tell about a few intense weeks in 1943 when a ‘living wall of people’ raised up and rescued over 95% of the Jewish population in Denmark from the Holocaust.”
The historic hand-crafted Elverhoj Museum was the dream home of Viggo Brandt-Erichsen, an internationally recognized painter and sculptor, and his wife, Martha Mott, an accomplished painter and art teacher, according to www.elverhoj.org.
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.
The name “Elverhoj” is pronounced “Elverhoy,” as spelled in the English version. It was taken from Denmark’s most famous folk play, “Elverhoj,” written in 1828. The play is still performed today. Translated as “elves on a hill,” the story involves a king’s visit to the night world of the dancing female wood sprites and her forest friends. “Elverhoj” was first performed in Solvang in 1914.
The graphic depiction of Elverhoj was designed by Mr. Brandt-Erichsen. The artwork was used as a pattern to create the redwood carving on the front door of the museum and has now become the logotype for the museum, seen on the upper left of each web page.