Return of Rembrandt exhibit the highlight of reopening

Staff Report

Elverhoj Museum of History and Art has reopened to the public 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, Friday to Sunday from 10 to 11 a.m. This hour away from the general public is for those who are immunocompromised or have special needs, and for members in appreciation of their support.

During the extended closure due to COVID-19, 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.

A highlight of the reopening is 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. This timely 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 Elverhoj Executive Director and exhibit curator Esther Jacobsen Bates. “The exhibition originally opened February 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 Berger, 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 a close-up view of the exquisite work.

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.

Elverhoj Museum of History and Art is located at 1624 Elverhoy Way in Solvang. There is no charge for admission; suggested donation is $5. For more information or to schedule an early hour appointment, phone the Museum at (805) 686-1211 or visit