09 November 2010

Danish Immigration Museum in Elk Horn, Iowa

The next time your loved one and you are driving on a road trip to the Rocky Mountains from Iowa, make sure to convince them to stop at the Danish Immigrant Museum in Elk Horn. The museum is situated along the I-80 corridor midway between Des Moines, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska. Elk Horn is one of the many small communities in the Midwest settled by a large numbers of Danes who came to this country.

The museum was interesting and a good break after driving about 3 hours on our 15-hour journey to the Rocky Mountains. The restroom facilities were superb. We also did not have to pay to enter the museum, because I claimed I was a landscape architecture student - and the elderly Danish woman said, "Well since you are just looking at the architecture - I won't charge you." I then practiced some Danish and we were on our way.
The museum 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's artifact collection of over 35,000 artifacts is diverse and wide ranging. There are family heirlooms brought from Denmark, remarkable examples of needlework, 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.

Oh, and make sure to stop at the Danish pastry shop on the way into town. There will be a group of old Danish ladies enjoying coffee, they will stop and stare at you - but just order the "spandauer" and all should be fine.

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