Dorotea Open Air Museum

I’d gone to Dorotea to visit the caravan museum which turned out to be closed. But I still found plenty to do.

Open air museum, Dorotea

I’d gone to Dorotea specifically to visit the caravan museum. As the owner of a tiny campervan I’d thought I’d be able to pick up lots of ideas and tips that I could adapt.

autumn leaves in Dorotea

Although it was still August, the summer season was over, leaves were just starting to turn golden and the caravan museum had closed for the winter. In fact it’s only open for about three weeks, so chances of catching it open are always going to be pretty slim.

I chatted to the Dutch couple who ran the campsite and they said they didn’t understand why the season finished so early either. This wasn’t just the caravan museum that was closed, but many other places in northern and central Sweden. Yes, the weather was turning autumnal, children were back at school and students were back at university, but for foreign tourists it was still the height of their summer holidays and there still seemed to be plenty around. Okay, maybe not in Dorotea, but certainly in other places.

Dorotea campsite
My tent looked really lonely in the campsite

As I didn’t have a caravan museum to go to, I had plenty of time to do visit the other tourist attraction in Dorotea – the Open Air Museum.

First, I headed up the hill past the museum to the small church to find Björn Martinius’ large sculpture ‘The Last Supper’. I’d read that this was a set of life-size wooden carvings, but was still taken aback when I pushed open the door to the small chapel by the church’s  graveyard.

Chapel housing the Last Supper
The chapel housing the ‘Last Supper’ sculpture

My first thought was that I’d walked in on someone. A second later I noticed the people sat beside him and a second after that I realised these were the carvings.

The Last Supper
The Last Supper

On closer inspection they were obviously wooden. That they appear so realistic at first glance has, I think, a lot to do with their size and the way they fill the space. As soon as you slip inside the doorway, rather than standing back as with most sculptures, with The Last Supper you could be an extra guest.

The Last Supper
Breaking bread with the apostles

The church itself dates from 1934 and was designed by Evert Milles, brother of sculptor Carl Milles. It was built to replace the original 1799 church after it burnt down in 1932. I wanted to have a look inside as it holds some sculptures by Carl Milles. However, the church was locked and I couldn’t see through the windows. I had to wait until I got back to Stockholm to get my fill of Carl Milles’ work.

Dorotea Church
Dorotea Church

I plodded back down Kulerbacken hill to the open air museum. There was no-one about and I had a quick wander before finding the curator in her office. She told me she was waiting for the police because they’d had a break-in the night before. Several of the buildings had been broken into and because each building is stuffed with so many artifacts it wasn’t an easy job working out what had actually gone missing.

Open air museum, Dorotea
The Open Air Museum

She took the time to wander round with me though, explaining about the ways of life in days gone by. Once the police arrived she left me to wander on my own.

Open air museum, Dorotea Open air museum, Dorotea

Open air museum, Dorotea
Can you guess what this is for? In the past when ladies wore long, wide skirts and floors were draughty, they would fill this contraption with hot coals and stand it on the ground beneath their skirts. Yes, it really is a ladies’ bum warmer. And yes, skirts (and bums) did occasionally catch alight.

Open air museum, Dorotea

Open air museum, Dorotea
Scary hairdryers. The one on the right looks more like an instrument of torture.
Open air museum, Dorotea
I loved this collection of old typewriters
Open air museum, Dorotea
The parlour of one of the posher houses
Open air museum, Dorotea
Is it nearly fika time?
Open air museum, Dorotea
These cloudberries looked so good. Shame they were plastic.
Open air museum, Dorotea
Built in furniture. Including a baby chair hanging from the ceiling.
Open air museum, Dorotea
A hut for storing meat. It’s high on a pole to keep it out of the reach of predatory animals. Its Lappish name is a ‘Njalla’.
Open air museum, Dorotea
A typical South Lapland style hut.
Open air museum, Dorotea
A hut used for smoking meat and fish.

Once I’d finished, I called back into the office to thank her and say goodbye. As we’d walked round she’d told me I’d missed the traditional bread baking display earlier in the day. Now, as I was about to leave, she presented me with a bag of the traditional bread as a gift.

traditional bread
Freshly made traditional bread

I hadn’t got to see the caravan museum, which had been my sole reason for coming to Dorotea, but I’d still enjoyed my day and like that I still have a reason to come back one day. Though I’ll check that the caravan museum is actually open first.

 

 

 

 

Author: Anne

Join me in my journey to live a life less boring, one challenge at a time. Author of the forthcoming book 'Walking the Kungsleden: One Woman's Solo Wander Through the Swedish Arctic'.

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