Give yourself a chance to learn about our history by experiencing life as it was in previous centuries. Living history museums around the world aim to educate people by creating real-life environments with an experiential interpretation of history. These are 10 of the best living history museums around the world.
Netherlands Open Air Museum
The best way to experience everyday Dutch life from the early 1900s is by visiting the Netherlands Open Air Museum. Within the museum are hidden historic houses, mills, and farmhouses depicting the lives and customs of the Dutch people. The museums’ exhibits date back to the First World War during times when slavery and child labor issues arose. The park is 108 acres with nearly 40 historic buildings brought in from various parts of the country.
Also, within the buildings and houses are costumed employees re-enacting the village life of the Dutch. Demonstrations include paper production, linseed production, and beer brewing from the early times. Several trains run from Amsterdam to the museum making for a scenic experience through the Dutch countryside.
Preserving the life of urban and rural North East England during the climax of the industrial revolution is one of the largest living museums in Europe. The Beamish Open-Air Museum is located about 10 miles from New castle covering 300 acres of beautiful Durham countryside. The Beamish Museum also lets you experience early English folklife with buildings brought brick by brick, from other parts of the region; constructing a town, a pit village, a home farm, and Pokerly Old Hall.
Throughout the year, the museum hosts several events such as The Great North Festival of Transportation, The Georgian Fair, The Great North Festival of Agriculture, and other seasonal events. Entrance tickets are valid for an entire year with unlimited entry during this time to encourage people to visit continually and attend the events.
Black Country Living Museum
An award-winning open-air museum that claims to be the birthplace of the industrial revolution is the Black Country Living Museum. The site is famous for its wide range of midsteel-based products from nails to the anchor chains used for the Titanic. Dud Dudley mastered his technique of smelting iron with coal rather than using wood charcoal creating enough iron for industrial use. The museum is set across 26 acres which includes over 40 reconstructed shops, houses, and industrial areas.
You’ll meet historical characters who’ll explain about their lives and work during the Industrial Revolution. Visitors can also explore heritage vehicles while seeing daily industrial demonstrations; brass, chain and nail making. They can play old fashioned street games, indulge in traditional desserts from the baker’s shops, and also catch short films from the 1920s.
Skansen Open Air Museum
The oldest open-air museum in the world is located in the beautiful city of Stockholm, Sweden. The Skansen Open-Air Museum includes 150 farms and dwellings disassembled and transported from various parts of the country. You can explore over five centuries of Swedish history with employees recreating old professions. It is situated on Royal Djurgarden offering stunning views of Stockholm.
The Seglora Church is a wooden church with colorful ceiling paintings dating back to the early 18th century. Until today, it’s still used for weddings, christenings, and church services. Swedish traditions like Midsummer, Walpugis Night, and Lucia are also celebrated at Skansen. The museum is connected with the Stockholm zoo containing animals native to Scandinavia. These animals include wolverines, bears, lynx, wolves, bison, and a range of small creatures on display.
Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village
An open-air museum recreating the villages of Ukrainian Canadian settlers is situated in east-central Alberta, Canada not far from Edmonton. This area marks the largest Ukrainian settlement outside of Ukraine. Here, more than ten percent of Alberta’s population can trace their heritage to the early Ukrainian immigrants. The museum pays tribute to the vital role Ukrainians settlers played in Alberta’s history.
It dates back over 125 years with more than 35 restored historic buildings. This includes a new school, three Eastern Byzantine Rite churches, a blacksmith shop, farmsteads, a sod house, and a working grain elevator. Staff not only dress in costumes but they also speak in very heavy Ukrainian accents. However, many will only speak Ukrainian. The site contains various bakeries and Ukrainian concessions offering traditional food like homemade pierogi and borscht rich with dill.
Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar
A heritage park in the province of Bataan of the Philippines is the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar; meaning “The Phillippine houses of Acuzar.” The museum celebrates Filipino Heritage showcasing Filipino talent and craftsmanship. The site is built over 988 acres of land in the town of Bagac; 150 kilometers north of Manila. The houses date back to the 18th century recreating a village of cobblestone streets, small plazas, and outdoor sculptures.
Today the land consists of a resort which allows you relive the age-old traditions and practices distinct to Philippine culture. It also offers the luxury and comfort of the modern world. Cultural enthusiasts enjoy exploring the 34 Casas, each of which tell a different story. Tour guides are also available to explain all the details of the houses and what makes them unique. New houses have also been built alongside the old ones. Replicas of the San Jose Church and the Binondo Canal hold wedding ceremonies on the site.
Wallachian Open Air Museum
Situated in Moravian Wallachia, Czech Republic is a museum dedicated to preserving and displaying Wallachian culture and traditions. It is the largest and oldest open-air museum in central Europe. The site contains hundreds of timber structures from the Wallach area. The Wallachian Museum consists of farmhouses, shepherds’ buildings, a mill, a blacksmith’s shop, among other buildings. Unique farm animals such as the Valeska sheep and goats are also bred here. You’ll also find plant and farm products cultivated in local fields.
Close by is the Mill Valley which opened in 1982. Here, you can see the water driven forge hammer, fulling mill, flour mill, sawmill, and oil press. The museum hosts a variety of events such as blacksmith meetings, fishing days, “Village Christmas”, and reviving old farming methods to name a few. Traditional folklore shows are performed by folk art groups and authentic artists.
Saint Marie Among The Hurons
The first European pioneers in Canada was a French Jesuit settlement called Saint Marie Among the Hurons. In 1648, Sainte-Marie was a wilderness home to 66 French men; a fifth of the New France population. Today it is a historical site located in Wendake near Midland Ontario with 22 buildings surrounded by a palisade. The site is also the meeting place of two of Canada’s founding people being Wendat (or Huron) and the French.
A nearby site called Carhagouha is significant for having an earlier Recollet missionary, Father Joseph Le Caron, and conducted the first Catholic mass in Ontario. The museum hosts special events one being the Thanksgiving Harvest Festival and Arts and Crafts Show with many activities for art lovers. Here, people will enjoy original paintings in watercolor and oil, art cards, and Simoe County landscape and wildlife motifs.
Den Gamle By
An open-air museum located in the Aarhus Botanical Gardens in central Aarhus, Denmark is the Den Gamle By. When it opened it was the world’s first open-air living history museum of its kind focusing on town culture. It serves more than 400,000 visitors a year and consists of 75 historic buildings collected from various townships around the country. The buildings range from poorhouses to noble town palaces furnished just as they were when collected.
Additionally, the Eilschou Almshouses are homes found in the living history museum in which Hans Christian Anderson, author of The Little Mermaid, referred to them when writing “the first house belonging to the educated class into which I was kindly received”. In the tradesmen’s street, children can also take part in various crafts. These activities also include building a wood frame for a multistory building or carving small items in the carpenter’s workshop.
Roscheider Hof Open Air Museum
A folklore living history museum situated in Konz, Germany is the Roscheider Hof Open Air Museum. Inside this living history museum, you can explore traditional rural daily life with interesting exhibitions. These include “From Corn to Bread” and “Winegrowing on the Moselle, Saar, and Ruwer”. You can find traditional grocery stores, barbershops, village pubs, a rose garden, and several country gardens all of which are centered around a rectangular courtyard.
Also, a school museum can be explored with wooden benches arranged in even rows, blackboard rags tied to slates, and a raised deck at the front of the class to appear just as it did during the Empire. Many exhibits include picture galleries, films, and poetry written by the local authors from the original villages. Also, unlike other museums, it is not a public institution but owned by a private non-profit organization with over 1,000 members.