Step back in time and discover Denmark’s rural past at the Open Air Museum. Taking a walk around Denmark’s Frilandsmuseet, or Open Air Museum, is like stepping back in time. Set in beautiful natural surroundings, this expansive outdoor museum is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe. Comprising over 80 acres of lovely countryside, the museum tells the story of Denmark’s rural past.
Founded in 1897, the Open Air Museum is located in Kongens Lyngby, just 8 miles (13 kilometres) north of Copenhagen. The museum brings together over 50 original houses and buildings from Denmark, Sweden, North Germany and the Faroe Islands dating from the 1600s to the 1950s. All of the houses and farm buildings at the museum were removed from their original sites and then carefully restored and furnished for an authentic historic feel.
A Tour of the Open Air Museum
The buildings at the museum range from the poorest farmer’s lodging to a country manor house. A village meeting place, lace making school and poorhouse are also represented, as well as fishermen’s cottages, barns, windmills and other outbuildings. Visitors are allowed to go into the houses and see the often cramped and claustrophobic living conditions experienced by their former inhabitants. Ceilings and doors can be quite low in many of the smaller homes, which can make entry a bit perilous for taller visitors to the museum. Information about the history and structure of the buildings is provided in English as well as Danish.
The entire circuit of the museum covers nearly two miles and the buildings are arranged in geographical order with those from Denmark nearest the main entrance. Visitors are free to wander in any direction they choose and to go at their own pace, seeing as much or as little as they wish.
The land surrounding the buildings is given over to gardens, pasture and open landscape. Care has been taken to replicate geographical areas as authentically as possible in order to show their distinct characters. The museum is also home to many farm animals. Flocks of ducks and geese roam the lanes and gather to swim in the picturesque ponds and streams. Goats and sheep do their part to keep the grassy areas trimmed and horses graze in the fields.
When it is time to take a break from sightseeing, the museum offers a restaurant with an outdoor seating area, a food stand and picnic tables. A visit to the Museum Shop, which sells a variety of souvenirs, books and postcards, is also a must for the visitor.
Special Events at the Open Air Museum and Brede Works
In order to show life as it was in past centuries, historical re-enactors are often on hand at the museum to recreate scenes from everyday Danish life, demonstrating traditional crafts, cooking and other rural pastimes. On special days, demonstrations are given at the museum’s mills, telling the story of how wind and hydro power was harnessed in order to process grain into flour.
On Sundays, musicians entertain visitors with traditional folk music and during the summer, the Open Air Museum hosts a pantomime about Danish folklore. Horse and carriage rides around the whole of the museum are available and take around half an hour. Guided tours of the museum in English are available by request.
For those interested in Denmark’s industrial, as well as rural past, nearby Brede Works is also open to visitors. This historic textile factory is located just across the scenic mill stream to the north of the museum. The factory comprises an entire community of workmen’s houses, a canteen (now a restaurant), a children’s nursery, as well as the factory owner’s mansion and the factory itself. The Brede Works factory hosts an exhibition on the “Cradle of Industry” about the Industrial Revolution and the founding of the Welfare State. The beautiful neoclassical mansion, dating from 1795, is open to the public on designated days.
Whether you are interested in Denmark’s cultural history or just like walking in beautiful countryside surrounded by picturesque homes and buildings, the Danish Open Air Museum and Brede Works provide an enjoyable and interesting day out for the entire family.
Information on Visiting the Open Air Museum
The Open Air Museum is open from late March to October. Admission to the museum is free. More information on the museum and Brede Works can be found on the Nationalmuseet website.