Hans Christian Andersen Museum – Solvang, California - Atlas Obscura
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Solvang, California

Hans Christian Andersen Museum

Honoring the famed folktale author, this California museum looks like it belongs in the Black Forest. 

Like a hidden treasure in a fairy tale, the Hans Christian Andersen Museum waits quietly and patiently for you on the second floor of The Book Loft in Solvang, California.

This small and unassuming museum is dedicated to the incredible author who actually wrote all of his stories as original works unlike some of his German counterparts, like the Grimm brothers, who assembled and retold pre-existing folk tales.

In Denmark, Hans Christian Andersen is as revered as a veritable Shakespeare, and if you read his original texts, they are incredibly complex tales of universal ideas set in often eloquent prose. Even well known classics such as The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid, and The Emperors New Clothes can be read much deeper than a mere bedtime story. 

The museum focuses on his life and work. It also highlights his friendship with the famed singer Jenny Lind. He deeply loved her and wrote the story The Nightingale in her honor which later became part of her stage name. Although she did not feel the same, she was very kind to him. She remained an important muse to him and they were great friends for many years.

The museum also has a collection of his paper cuttings on display. Often while telling stories he would be cutting a folded paper as one would cut a paper snowflake, and as his story went on he continued to cut more so that by the end of the story, he’d open it up to reveal a charming scene in paper lace.

Know Before You Go

Don't forget to stop by the local diners to sample some aebleskiver which are the Danish version of French Beignets or for lack of a better term, really good doughnuts with jam.