Once upon a time there was a Prince who wanted to have a Princess of his own. But she had to be a real Princess. He traveled all over the world to find one, but there was always something wrong. He found plenty of Princesses, but the Prince could never be absolutely sure they were real Princesses.
There was always something that wasn't quite right. At last he returned home and was very sad because he wanted a real Princess so badly.One evening a terrible storm blew up. There was lightning and thunder and rain came down in torrents -- it was frightening! All at once there was a knock at the gate and the old King went out to open it.Standing outside was a Princess. What a sight she was out there in the storm! She didn't look like a Princess. Water was running down her hair and her clothes. It ran in at the tips of her shoes and out at the heels. Still, she said she was a real Princess.Well, we shall soon see about that! thought the old Queen. She didn't say anything, but she went into the bedroom, took off all the bedding and placed a pea on the bottom of the bed. Then she took twenty mattresses and laid them on top of the pea, and then twenty of the softest featherbeds on top of the mattresses. That is where the Princess had to sleep for the night.In the morning they asked how she had slept. Oh, it was just miserable! said the Princess. I hardly slept a wink all night! Goodness knows what was in the bed! I was lying on something so hard that I am black and blue all over. It's perfectly awful!Then, of course, they knew she was a real Princess, because she had felt the pea through twenty mattresses and twenty featherbeds. No one but a real Princess could have such tender skin as that.And so the Prince took her as a wife, because now he knew he had a real Princess. The pea was put in a museum where it can still be seen, unless someone has taken it. Now, how's that for a good story?
Now a more fact based summary of the museum comes from website of The Book Loft, a bookstore and cafe where the museum is located. In 1970, there was a demand from locals and tourists for things related to Han Christian Anderson. At the time there was a local park named in his honor and a small statue of his head located in a small town square-park. Knowing that tourists came not just for Danish pastries or to purchase Danish-made and Danish-inspired items such as porcelain figurines of a Danish couple in traditional clothing kissing or Viking decor or wooden shoes but to experience Danish culture and more of the language, a museum was brought forth that would be dedicated to Denmark's famous author, Hans Christian Anderson. This museum would bring Anderson to America, since many tourists would not be able to visit his museum in Denmark. The museum would teach about his early life, his career and his travels. It would talk about the inspirations and historical settings for his stories and offer people a glimpse into who Anderson was, where he lived and what he looked like. Furthermore, tourists can see the international fame of his works.
Included at the museum are-
Exhibits and displays depicting:
- Andersen's life and work
- Jenny Lind, the beloved singer known throughout the world as the Swedish Nightingale Andersen's unrequited love
- Jean Hersholt, Hollywood philanthropist, Dr. Christian of radio fame, noted Andersen scholar
- Model of Andersen's childhood home.
- The Princess and the Pea model by local artist Carl Jacobson
- Handcrafted Andersen doll, complete with miniature book, designed and made by Danish doll maker Kirsten Gynther Eriksen
- Antique tools for making wooden shoes (similar to those used by Andersen's father)
Hundreds of volumes of Andersen's tales
- Many first and early editions
- Many illustrated editions, including Edmund Dulac, W. Heath Robinson, Kate Greenaway, Hans Tegner, Anne Anderson and a special exhibit of Danish illustrator Kay Nielsen
- Many in Danish, including beautifully bound sets and individual volumes.
Other Literary Works
- Andersen also wrote travel journals, plays, novels, poetry
Original letters and photographs
- Poetry and correspondence written in Andersen's spidery script
- Photographs of Andersen at various times of his life
- Whimsical, delicate cutouts were created by Andersen for the amusement of friends and their children.
- The museum logo is a figure by Andersen, representing the classic pantomime character Pierrot.
Along with the museum, Solvang also decorated portions of its main road and other side streets within its more historic/touristy areas, with statues, many smaller copies, of famous statues depicting Anderson's stories, such as the Little Mermaid.