History and architecture were always my favorite subjects at school. Well, together with math and biology, so you can imagine how difficult it was for me to choose my future career. But this is a long story for another post..
I enjoy learning about people who lived in the past – about their daily lives, work, hobbies and traditions. I also like to see their houses to better understand how their lives were. There are many museum where you can do it and one of those museum called Openlunchtmuseum (open air museum) is in Arnhem in The Netherlands. This is where I can combine my love for history and architecture and have a great time.
I have never been to this museum before and although the best time to visit it is in summer (due to the weather conditions), it has a special charm in winter. You can enjoy skating, snow tubing, sledging, put on Dutch wooden shoes klompen or bake bread rolls over the fire and much more! The Open-Air Museum is where history comes to life, so don’t be afraid and get involved in an activity yourself. We were walking around in the klompen.
Are you ready for a tour? Let’s go!
This open-air museum is much bigger than I expected. There are so many things to see that you don’t even know where to start. We wanted to capture as much as possible, so decided to take a map and follow the official route. We spent there more than two hours and only managed to see half of the museum, so we will have to go back there in summer.
The typical Dutch farms, houses, windmills, shops and more are originals and have been moved from their original places to the museum after they would otherwise have been torn down to make way for a railway, motorway, or just newer buildings. This museum keeps them alive for us to know how people lived back them.
Let’s start with this Wheelwright workshop from the 19th century. It comes from an area with abundance of oak trees, so making wooden wheels was very popular there. It was usually done during the winter months when farmers didn’t have much to do. Their wheels that were produced here had a great quality and were purchased by customers even from Amsterdam. The machines that they were using were simple, mainly powered by steam.
Just a few meters away from the wheelwright workshop was this charming farmhouse. It was one of those houses that you could enter and there was a lady sitting inside who would tell you a story about this house.
All daily activities would happen in this room. It was very small but it hosted 11 members of the family.
This lady was very passionate about her work and told us many stories. The house comes from Veluwe region and its owners worked at bigger farms because the soil in that region was poor and they couldn’t use it for farming. It was a difficult life and every member of the family had to work.
This family didn’t always follow the rules. There was a picture on the wall with a man and his wife. The man had his arm over the woman’s shoulders which was unacceptable at that time. The lady told us that in the past there were kids coming to take a peek through the window to make sure that this picture really exists.
The house was so warm and we though that it was from the fireplace behind the lady. But she told us that every house in the museum has a floor heating! Why? Because otherwise they could be damaged by humidity.
There were two of these small beds in the house. Two beds for 11 people, so how did they sleep? As you can see, they slept in a sitting position and you could fit 4-5 people in one such bed. Those who didn’t fit slept on the ground. The interesting solution was that that babies were put in the ladders of the cupboards as well.
DAY’S LABOURER’S COTTAGE
This cottage comes from the middle of the 19th century and it was occupied by a poor family. Day laborers didn’t have it easy as they were hired on a day-to-day basis, so they never knew if there was work for them the next day. This cottage is very small, one room building with a couple of box beds.
The museum is built as a real village and there are even some animals walking around. We saw these sheep, cows, goats and a few chickens.
They greeted us, I took a photo, thanked them and we left 😊 They seemed to like me!
This house was built in 1832 and was owned by a wealthy farmer called Slagter. He was a widower and had 8 children. He owned a lot of land and had other income from various sources, such as butter making, fishing or bee-keeping. We couldn’t enter this house but it was not a problem as my attention was drawn to this bridge anyway.
FARMHOUSE (ROPE YARD)
This house dates back to 1750 and it was relocated to the museum in 1952. If you enter an old Dutch farmhouse you will find yourself straight in the living room. And it’s not different with this one. As the house is completely furnished, it is not possible to enter it, but you can take a peek through the window.
Here you can see my husband being curious and photo-bombing my shots.
I guess that when you think of The Netherlands, the mills are one of the first things that come to your mind, right? There are not that many old mills anymore and most of them you can see somewhere in museums. This open-air museum has quite a few of them.
The Dutch have been successfully managing water for centuries. They live in a flat country with a sea, so they had no other choice anyway. In this museum we can see mills that can pump water away using wind power. You can even try it yourself! There are people who can help you with that.
I believe that this is how the typical Dutch landscape looked like in the past.
Water, grass, trees, bridges and farmhouses – this is The Netherlands how I know it (in the newer version of course)
And here we are! I have never been inside of a luxurious farmhouse and I was very excited to enter this one. It doesn’t look like it but it is enormous with different layers and was turned into two luxurious apartments.
The house was built in 1600 – more than 400 years ago! And it was used for cattle breeding as well as cheese making for almost 350 years. In the 60th of the last century, the highway was built right through the farmland and the farmer decided to quit the business and turned the farmhouse into a luxury home.
What happened just 20 years after later? The house had to be destroyed to make place for the railway! But instead it was cut into large pieces and moved to the museum where it was rebuilt again. It is set next to a pond as it used to be placed next to a lake and like this you get a feeling how it was to be in the house before it was placed here.
This is what I really like about this museum. They save beautiful pieces of the architecture and history.
And that new house on the left? Well, these are toilets 😊
Now, we will head to another part of the museum, so we have to walk through the places that we have seen before.
We are heading to this bridge which we will cross to get to the ‘entertaining’ part of the museum.
Have you noticed that all these mills look different?
Here we are! There are many of such bridges across The Netherlands and they open when a boat is passing by and stop all the traffic going through. Once we were waiting in front of the bridge for such a long time that we considered turning around and looking for another one that was free to go.
When you cross the bridge, you will find yourself in a city with a bakery, a restaurant, a cafe, a fries shop, a carousel and a market. It was already raining at that time, so we didn’t stay for long. We went inside of one stall and put on the klompen. They didn’t have the right size for us, so we didn’t buy them, but the owner was surprised that I have never tried klompen before. I had to explain him that I’m not Dutch and then he let me try a couple of them, so that I get some experience. I didn’t mind as it was raining and we were inside.
It continued raining and we were forced to call it a day.
There in the back is the other half of the museum that we haven’t seen yet. It’s actually good as we have a reason to come back. I have enjoyed our visit and will be happy to return here.
These kids apparently didn’t mind the rain and continued skating 😊
I’m looking forward to our next visit and I hope that you have enjoyed another tour with me!
Thank you for reading!