Danish Museum Home

Past Exhibitions

Curator's Choice: Art from the Permanent Collection

March 28 through May 10th, 2015

The best and favorite works from our vaults, as selected by our professional curators. See some of the pieces that are kept right here in Elk Horn, Iowa. 




Exploring Danish Happiness

August 2014 through May 4, 2015
Denmark frequently makes news as “one of the happiest countries on Earth,” but what does that really mean?  How does one measure the “science of happiness?”  A group of researchers in Denmark formed the Happiness Research Institute and created an exhibition to share their findings.  This 10-panel exhibition is on view at the museum in the new multimedia room.  As of summer 2015, it will be available to travel to other organizations throughout the country; contact curator Tova Brandt to inquire about borrowing this exhibit for your community.   

Danish Children Growing Up American
September 27, 2014 through April 4, 2015
Organized by the Danish American Archive & Library in Blair, Nebraska, this exhibit presents photographs of Danish immigrant children at play, at school, and in all facets of early 20th century life.  The photographs are accompanied by children's toys, clothing, and furniture from the museum's collection for a celebration of childhood.  




Photography by Diana Velasco: Two Nationalities

November 28, 2014 through March 15, 2015

The exhibition “Photography by Diana Velasco: Two Nationalities” presents a series of photographs exploring individuals who grew up with parents of two different nationalities – as Velasco herself did, with a Danish mother and Spanish father.  This poses a particular challenge of personal identity in Denmark, where dual citizenship is not permitted at this time.  The exhibition is organized by the Denmark Immigration Museum outside of Copenhagen; in addition to the Museum of Danish America, this exhibit will travel to the West Chicago Public Museum (West Chicago, IL) and the Nordic Heritage Museum (Seattle, WA).  

Support for this exhibition and for an artist-in-residency with Diana Velasco comes from the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Nude Vases, Cubist Faces: Modernism at Rookwood Pottery

April 26 through November 9, 2014

An exhibition of art pottery and paintings organized by the Museum of Danish America with guest curator Annemarie Sawkins, Ph.D.

Jens Jensen immigrated from Denmark in 1927 and took a position as a decorator at the world-renowned Rookwood Pottery Company in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Whether working as a decorator of art pottery of as a painter, Jensen's unique style not only inspired his colleagues but left a legacy clearly influenced by this European roots and modern sensibilities.

Rookwood pottery is on loan from the collection of Riley Humler and Annie Bauer.  Paintings by Jensen are on loan from the Phyllis Weston Gallery, Cincinnati, Ohio.

This exhibition was funded in part with a grant from the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

"Nude Vases, Cubist Faces" will be on view at the Dubuque Museum of Art from December 13, 2014 through March 1, 2015.

Søren Kierkegaard: The Global Dane 
February 1 - April 13, 2014

As a theologian, philosopher and author, Kierkegaard (1813-1855) is one of the most influential figures of the 19th century, and his influence continues to be felt around the globe.  This exhibition, prepared for the bicentennial of Kierkegaard’s birth, explores his life and work.  Whether a viewer is seeking a new introduction to Kierkegaard or renewing and old acquaintance, this exhibition encourages an understanding of both the man and his ideas.  The English-language text is by Kierkegaard scholar Joakim Garff.

At the Museum of Danish America, the exhibit is enhanced by a display of books, both old and new, in several world languages.  See volumes that influenced Kierkegaard’s life in Copenhagen.  View actual copies of his work published in his lifetime.  Follow one of his publications as it evolved for new generations and in every corner of the globe.  See a sampling of the many works about and inspired by Kierkegaard that continue his influence into the 21st century. 

After the exhibit closes in April, it will be available to communities throughout the country.  Schools, universities, libraries, churches and other organizations may host the exhibition.  Contact Tova Brandt, Albert Ravenholt Curator of Danish-American Culture, to inquire about specific dates. 


Jens Jensen: Celebrating the Native Prairie

On view March 24, 2012 - March 3, 2013

Danish immigrant Jens Jensen became a leading figure in landscape architecture during the early 20th century. Emphasizing the use of native plants and natural materials, his designs and philosophies continue to influence gardeners and landscapers today. Learn more about Jensen's life, work, and legacy, and then step outside to watch the development of the museum's Jens Jensen Prairie Landscape Park!

This exhibition is supported by a grant from Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  A traveling version is also available.  


Danish-American Artist Series presents . . .
Meeting My Makers - Portraits by Neoma Thomas

On view July 21, 2012 through March 10, 2013

Neoma Thomas' work explores the presence of past generations in family life and her intersecting interests in portraiture and genealogy.  Neighbors in Audubon County, Iowa where she was raised may recognize many of the faces and names included in her work!

Thomas earned her BFA in graphic design from the Kansas City Art Institute and relates that she "spent a lot of time poring over old family photos, trying to gain some insight into [their] lives...studying their expressions, their gestures.  And then I tried to capture an emotion."  Her work is in the style of Midwest regionalists.




Danish-American Artist Series presents…


On view January 21 to July 8, 2012

Mia Furlong is not a typical lawyer – she works four days a week, so that she has time available to pursue her painting. Artistic expression has always been integrated into her life, whether as a dancer, a poet, or a painter. Her mother is a Danish immigrant, and Mia frequently visits family in Denmark. She credits her Danish heritage for the choices and values in her life, such as keeping room in her life for creative arts. Her work reflects a strong interest in color, geometry, and organic forms such as trees, leaves, and flowers.



Faces of Copenhagen: Photographs by Itzick Lev

November 25, 2011 to February 26, 2012
On loan from the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle, Washington, this collection of portraits reveals modern Copenhagen as a diverse and cosmopolitan city.
Sponsored in part by a grant from the American Scandinavian Foundation.


Danish-American Artist Series presents…

Yngve Olsson (1896-1970) immigrated from Denmark in 1918. By 1920, he was working for the Kalo Shop in Chicago - an Arts and Crafts style workshop that designed and created silver jewelry, tablewares, and housewares. He was a master craftsman, known especially for his chased and engraved decoration that often took the form of flowers and leaves. For 50 years he was a leading member of the Kalo Shop team, in addition to working out of his home workshop. This exhibition presents several original pieces made by Yngve Olsson, as well as his tools, design drawings, and photographs of other works.

On view August 6, 2011, through January 8, 2012


Church Basements and Children's Homes: Danish-American Missions Here and Abroad

Church-based missions can take many forms: schools, hospitals, orphanages, retirement homes, and – of course – new churches. In the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, before state governments provided comprehensive social services, churches often filled the need to care for vulnerable children and adults. But the churches did not limit themselves to caring for their neighbors; many churches looked beyond their own communities to more distant places. From Iowa to Oklahoma, and from Nigeria to Japan, Danish-American churches were involved in missions that created global connections – connections that reached all the way back to the churches and church basements in which congregations organized their mission support.

For many Danish-American churches, missions offered a window into distant places and different cultures. While on furlough back “at home,” many missionaries would visit congregations to describe the history and culture of the people they served. Sunday School lessons, Women’s Missionary Society meetings, and other organized events could include a description of a particular mission as well as an introduction to the geography, food, and cultural traditions of far-away places.

On view in the Mezzanine Gallery from April 16 through October 31, 2011.

This exhibition was supported by a grant from Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities. A traveling version is also available.

Danish-American Artist Series presents . . . 

Grete Schioler is a weaver and fiber artist living in Dayton, Ohio. Born and raised in Denmark, she and her husband settled in Ohio in the early 1950s. She studied fashion design in Denmark, but in the United States began to study weaving and other textile techniques. Her works can be seen in many public buildings and private collections.
The Danish Immigrant Museum is proud to present this retrospective exhibition. The works on view encompass a wide range of Schioler’s art, including tapestry, silk painting, quilting, appliqué and knitting. Some express her experience as a Danish immigrant, such as a silk painting that incorporates the lyrics of a Danish folk song. Others works reflect Schioler’s interest in color, texture, and contours of both the man-made and natural environment.
January 15 through July 24, 2011


Sampling the Collection, A to Å

What weird, wonderful, and wacky objects are in the museum's collections?  This exhibit invites you to explore some of the more interesting and surprising artifacts within The Danish Immigrant Museum.  Drawn exclusively from the museum's collections, there is an item (or several) for every letter of the alphabet - including the Danish letters Æ, Ø, and Å! 

On view in the Mezzanine Gallery from March 27, 2010 through March 6, 2011.

This exhibit is also available online on the museum's website.  Visit "Sampling the Collection" under the Collections menu, or click here to jump to that page.  The online version is made possible by a generous gift from Lissi Vange of Wilmette, Illinois.



Danish-American Artist Series presents . . .


Paul Solevad is a Danish-American artist born and raised in California, and now living near Portland, Oregon.  This body of work, titled "Layeradium," explores the relationship between humans and the natural world on many levels: microscopic, ecological, and spiritual.

Pictured to the left is "Radiolarial Elements".

July 24, 2010 through January 2, 2011



Danish-American Artist Series presents . . . 


Evelyn Matthies is a life-long artist and art instructor in Brainerd, Minnesota.  This exhibition explores the many artistic styles, subjects, and techniques that have marked her decades-long career.

Pictured at left is "Grandpa's Home Town," depicting the neighborhood in Denmark from which her grandfather emigrated.  This piece was acquired for the museum's permanent collection.

January 23 through July 11, 2010



 VICTOR BORGE:  A Centennial Celebration

To celebrate the centennial of Victor Borge’s birth, The Danish Immigrant Museum has partnered with the Borge family and the American-Scandinavian Foundation of New York to sponsor a major exhibition on Victor Borge’s life and work.

The exhibition features images, video, and artifacts from both his personal life and his career as an entertainer. For the opening of this exhibition, the Borge piano on display at The Danish Immigrant Museum was restored to playable condition by Piano Technician Norman Petersen of Mankato, Minnesota.  Glenn Henricksen, an acclaimed pianist, debuted the newly refurbished instrument as part of the anniversary tribute. Also, visitors were treated to a presentation by one of Borge’s daughters, Janet Borge Crowle of Maryland, at the opening reception.

Parts of this exhibition were featured in a show at Scandinavia House in New York from January through May of 2009.

May 22, 2009 through March 8, 2010



Danish-American Artist Series Presents . . .


Anni Holm is a young conceptual artist who primarily works in the media of photography, digital imaging, and performance art.  Born in Denmark, she has lived and worked in the Chicago area since 1999. 

In 2004, Holm graduated with a BFA in Photography from Colombia College in Chicago.  She has exhibited in several group and solo exhibitions, both in Denmark and in the United States, primarily in the Chicago area. 

July 2009 through January 2010



Danish-American Artist Series Presents . . .

Grethe Herlin and Lone Hansen


The paintings of mother and daughter artists from Bainbridge Island, Washington.

January through July 2009




Across Oceans, Across Time, Across Generations
This exhibition brought the main floor story of Across Oceans, Across Time to the next level. It followed three Danish families and their businesses: O&H Danish Bakery of Racine, Wisconsin; Andersen Windows of Bayport, Minnesota; and the Bansen Dairies of California, Oregon, and Nebraska.

Through this exhibition, visitors learned about three Danish families: the Olesens, Andersens, and Bansens, as well as the businesses they started and have successfully passed down through the generations. Visitors were encouraged to take genealogical handouts and brochures so that they may delve into their own family history through genealogical research.

June 2008 through April 2009



Danish-American Artist Series presents…
Jens Carstensen:  A Dane from Dane County

Jens Carstensen immigrated to the United States in 1950 at the age of twenty-four. After working in the New York/New Jersey areas, he settled down in Dane County, Wisconsin, where has lived since 1967. He felt he ‘belonged’ in the Upper Midwest (Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan) because the landscape, with its rolling hills, farms, and bodies of water, reminded him of Jylland, where he spent his early childhood.

July 2008 through January 2009



Carl Rohl-Smith: The Artist at Work
This exhibit featured statues created by a highly respected Danish artist during the last decades of the 19th century. The statues on exhibit, all loaned to us from the Trapholt Museum in Kolding, Denmark, were among those that sank with the ship that was transporting them back to Denmark in 1904.  All pieces were recovered and restored, and now the Museum was happy to be able to display some of these pieces for the first time.

January through November 2008



Across Oceans:  Our Maritime Collection
Generations ago, immigrants arrived in this country by ship. This exhibition featured paintings, prints, drawings, boat models, toy boats, and even a hat worn by an immigration officer at Ellis Island, all items related to this topic of water transportation. This show contained artifacts from the museum’s own collection and included a slide show of dozens of the small snapshot photographs in the collection that would otherwise have been difficult to showcase.

January 2008 through July 2008


Rescue of the Danish Jews
Multiple panels told the story of Denmark’s role in World War II. Text and images share details of the days leading up to the occupation, the conditions under which Germany took over the rule of Denmark, and its liberation. 

January through May 2008


Helle Jørvad – Goldsmith and Danish Designer
Helle Jørvad is a well-known and prominent silver and gold worker in Denmark. She has created pieces for important dignitaries in both Denmark and the United States. As part of her exhibition, Helle gave demonstrations several times and created jewelry and art pieces while visitors watched and asked questions. Her display included bowls, jewelry, church altar decorations, and much more. 

July 2007 through April 2008


Paper Cuttings of Annette Andersen
July 2007 through January 2008

Danish American Artist Series presents…
July 2007 through January 2008

Kaleidoscopic Colors of Scandinavia - Artwork by Edward Matwijkiw
May 2007 through June 2008

From Postcards to Instant Messaging - Friends and Family Stay in Touch
March 2007 through March 2008

Danish-American Artist Series Presents…
January 2007 through July 2007

Form, Fitness, and Rhythm in Motion - The Danish Gymnastic Tradition in America
April 2006 through March 2007

Danish-American Artist Series Presents…
July 2006 through January 2007

Danish-American Artist Series Presents…
January 2006 through July 2006

Nadjeschda Overgaard - National Heritage Fellow, 1998
October 2005 through June 2006

Americans at Work & at Play - A Study of Danish Influences in Everyday Life
May 2005 through May 2006

Hans Hansen - A Study in Danish-American Ingenuity
February 2005 through April 2006

Contemporary Illustrations of Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairytales

Celebrating 100 Years of Danish Christmas Seals
November 2004 through April 2005

Historical Danish Folk Costumes from the National Museum of Denmark
September 2004 through January 2005

Quilting Family History
September 2004 through October 2005

Original Paintings by Henri Sorensen
October through December 2004

Expressions of a Danish-American Identity - Exploring the Creative Work of Lorraine Larsen
March through September 2004

A Celebration of Heritage - Danish Folk Costumes in America
May 2003 through April 2004

The Photographs of Sisse Brimberg
January through March 2003 (first show)
2005 (second show)

Highlight from the Collections of 2001 - 2003
2003 through 2004

Housing the Dream- Revisiting Beginnings (20th Anniversary)

A Weaving Together of Many Diverse Threads - The Rich Tapestry of Minnesota's Danish Heritage

Creative Transformations - The Salmonsen Melberg Stamp Collection

A Passion For Coopering - The Life & Work of Niels Christian Thomsen

Jens Dixen & the Brorson Folk School
2002 through January 2008

Danes on the Northern Plains - Patterns of Settlement in the Dakotas, Montana & Wyoming

From A Gifted Journey - The Paintings of S.D. Rodholm

Narrating History Through Image - C.C.A. Christensen, Danish Immigrant Painter, Unfolds A Migration Story

Scenes from Denmark - Images of the Homeland
2001 through 2002

Wilderness Exodus - The Danish Mormon Experience in America

Danish-American Cultural Life in Chicago

Olaf Wieghorst - Artist of the American West
1999 through 2000

A Consecration of Hope - Baptismal Clothing from Immigrant Families

And the People Came - Elk Horn's Folk School, a Crucible of Danish Immigrant History

Embracing Two Worlds - The Thorvald Muller Family of Kimballton

Tracking the Source
1997 through 1998

A Time of Promise