Hans Christian Andersen, and I mean they REALLY love him. Not that Andersen ever visited, but Solvang is known as a little Danish village, and Andersen is considered a Danish treasure; even as a living author he was government funded, which was rare in the Victorian era. Most famously known for his fairy tales, Andersen's influence is all over the town of Solvang, right down to the town emblem that has an image of the little mermaid sitting on a rock. There are sculptures all over town as well as restaurants named after his stories and characters. I had no clue what we were in for when we drove into town. The museum itself is one of the most quirky and unorganized of any museum I've ever been in. It is located above a coffee shop, and it is an awkward entrance. The barista gave us a hopeful look and perked up as we opened the door, but when we turned to the staircase to go upstairs her gaze returned to her book, and I could swear I heard a small sigh escape from her lips.
The displays are charming, and most of them feature the paper cutouts that Andersen was known for using as props for his stories.
There are examples of Danish tools and a pair of clogs, as well as I giant looming bust of Andersen that watches the museum from the corner by the front desk.
There is a variety of artwork, mostly focusing on portraits of Andersen and various versions of his stories published over the years.
There were also large piles of neglected books; dismissed for whatever reason, by the employees and volunteers who work just feet away from them.
One of the strangest parts of the museum is that some of the books are for sale while others are treasured as collectibles and locked away. I loved the cover of this art deco version of Andersen's fairy tales. I wanted so badly to browse the pages and explore the illustrations, but it was locked under glass.
Of the several portraits in the museum this was my favorite. The elongated face reminded me of a Modigliani.
Near the museum was the Hans Christian Andersen Square, a former shopping center that now only holds remnants of the town's past. I guess at one time this store front displayed western wear, and now it's just a cheery John Wayne cutout smiling into the street.
The garden space bellow had this interesting little gazebo that I admired from a distance, as I was unsure of the structural stability.
It was a great little place to visit, but having grown up in a tourist town, I don't think I would ever make Solvang my home. I do recommend stopping in though, as this was one of the most interesting stops we made on our trip to the central California coast.