The Museum of Danish America celebrates Danish roots and American dreams.
The then-named Danish Immigrant Museum (a non-profit institution) was founded in 1983 to preserve the history of Danish immigration to America. In 1994 the first-phase building, reminiscent of Danish architecture, was completed, housing significant artifacts important to the interpretation of the Danish immigration story. The museum opened in June of 1994 as a national center for the Danish-American community. In October 2013 the museum officially adopted the name Museum of Danish America.
The museum's artifact collection of over 35,000 artifacts is diverse and wide ranging. There are family heirlooms brought from Denmark, remarkable examples of handicrafts, tools of early immigrant tradesmen, and memorabilia from Danish-American clubs and organizations. Many of the items on display are treasures which have been passed down through the generations in Danish families.
The museum's grounds, originally donated to the organization by the Elk Horn Lutheran Church, have been transformed into the Jens Jensen Prairie Landscape Park -- named for the colleague of Frank Lloyd Wright and the father of the Prairie School of Landscape Architecture. A pergola with interpretive panels about Jens Jensen's life and philosophies has been erected in the park, in addition to two council rings available for public use. Signage throughout the park and along the Friends' Walk trail expand on Jensen's design approach and the features of the park.
In 2014 the 8,000-square-foot Christensen Curatorial Center was completed. This expansion is located partially underground on the museum's west side. The space meets the storage needs of an expanding collection and also features an environmentally-friendly prairie green roof. Improvements and additions are ongoing with the support of museum members and donors.
Four organizations work in cooperation to preserve and study the Danish immigrant experience across the entire United States.
- Museum of Danish America – Elk Horn, Iowa
- Danish American Archive and Library – Blair, Nebraska
- Danish Immigrant Archives - Grand View University – Des Moines, Iowa
- Danish American Heritage Society – Salem, Oregon