The Museum of Danish America is located on a 35-acre property in Elk Horn. Both the buildings and the grounds invite visitors to explore the cultural heritage and natural landscape of Iowa’s Danish Villages.
Constructed in 1994, the museum’s main building features three floors of exhibits, including temporary exhibits on fascinating topics from around the country. Guests can interact with several of our exhibits, including a touchscreen kiosk near Victor Borge’s first piano that tells the story of the renowned comedian and pianist, a model of a WWII-era Danish fishing boat that children can climb inside, and a multimedia room that features exclusive video content. Many of the museum’s 40,000 collection objects can be seen in Visual Storage, a stunning room on the lower level that has glass walls on three sides and allows visitors to see pieces that would otherwise be behind closed doors!
The 8,000-square-foot James R. and Cecilia Christensen Curatorial Center was completed in the fall of 2014 and provides office space for the curatorial staff, a loading dock, a quarantine area for incoming objects, an exhibit preparation workroom, and climate-controlled storage for large objects, furniture, textiles, and institutional archives. The center has an innovative green roof planted with 17 different prairie grasses and forbs that complement the Jens Jensen Prairie Landscape Park.
Jens Jensen Prairie Landscape Park
Enjoy a commanding view of the lush Iowa hills and 30 acres of recreated prairie surrounding the Museum of Danish America in the Jens Jensen Prairie Landscape Park, named for the renowned Danish immigrant landscape architect who rebelliously used native plants and natural themes in his designs. A colleague of Frank Lloyd Wright, Jensen pioneered the “Prairie School” of landscape architecture and is celebrated today as an early advocate for native plants and the conservation of natural spaces.
Jens Dixen House
This small homesteader’s cabin was originally located in North Dakota. It was inhabited by Jens Dixen, a 1901 immigrant who was a school teacher and lay preacher. Since arriving at the museum in 1999, the cabin has been furnished as Dixen may have used it.
Step back in time at Bedstemor’s (Grandmother’s) House, a charming Victorian home built in 1908 by a Danish immigrant and now on the National Register of Historic Places. The home has been restored and furnished to reflect the lifestyle of the Danish-American families who lived there in the early 20th century.
The museum’s Genealogy Center is located on Main Street in Elk Horn. Since opening in 1996, the Genealogy Center has assisted many individuals in finding links to their past and to immigrant ancestors and lost relatives. The center maintains a significant collection of family history resources and background materials to individuals, settlements, and institutions.