By Raiza Giorgi

Nearly everyone in Denmark knows of Solvang, Danish Ambassador Henrik Bramsen Hahn says, and he particularly likes the city because it reminds him of his country’s small villages, where a sense of community is most important.

Hahn spoke Nov. 30 at a private event to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art. A reception of about 50 people included Solvang’s outgoing Mayor Jim Richardson, a representative from Congressman Salud Carbajal’s office and another from 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann’s office.

“Today would have been Martha Mott’s 113 birthday, and we are so grateful to her that she left this important piece of Solvang history in our hands to celebrate and enjoy history and culture,” said Esther Jacobsen-Bates, executive director of the museum.

The historic hand-crafted structure was the dream home of Mott and her husband, Viggo Brandt-Erichsen. He was an internationally recognized painter and sculptor and she was an accomplished painter and art teacher.
In 1950 they began building their home in the style derived from the large farmhouses of 18th-century Jutland in northern Denmark. The name “Elverhøj” is translated as “elves on a hill,” which is a famous folk play with a story that involves a king’s visit to the night world of the dancing female wood spirit and her forest friends. “Elverhøj” was first performed in Solvang in 1914.

Bates said it takes her team of 75 active volunteers and a few staff members to support the museum’s mission of art and history, which links the past to the future.

“We have collaborated so many times with the Danish embassy on many projects, from visits from the royal family for our centennial in 2011 to hosting Danish students and enjoying performances by the Danish gymnasts. I am excited for what the future holds for our countries and so honored that Ambassador Bramsen Hahn is here with us,” Bates said.
Hahn has a long career in the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he has held positions both in Denmark and abroad. Before coming to Washington, D.C., Hahn served as Denmark’s ambassador to Mexico, Afghanistan and Argentina.

“Denmark is really a sophisticated country and we cherish our relationship with the United States, and want to see our two countries help foster innovation. The U.S. is the third most important trade partner with Denmark. We are a small country but a powerful ally,” Hahn said in a media interview prior to the reception.

The ambassador spoke at the reception about Denmark’s commitment to green business practices and remarked how technology has made the country a leader in the modern age. Companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple are establishing data centers because of Denmark’s transition into the tech world.

The end of his speech concluded with a loud “Skål!” (Danish for “Cheers!”) and everyone lifted their glasses for a toast.

The Elverhoj’s many historical exhibits detail the city’s founding in 1911 by a group of Danish immigrants. It also hosts many events and art exhibits from local and international artists.

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