Skansen Open-Air Museum

I needed more than a day to see the world’s oldest open-air museum.

fountain and houses, Skansen

I like open-air museums. I like being able to poke around in the houses and imagine how people used to live. I’d been to a couple already in Sweden, but knew the best was to come.

turf roofed house, Skansen

Skansen was the world’s first open-air museum. It opened in 1891 and has been growing ever since. The buildings cover five centuries of Swedish history and have been collected from the far ends of the country as well as all the bits in between.

house and gardens, SkansenI first heard of it when I read Selma Lagerlöf’s book ‘The Wonderful Adventure of Nils’. The 1906 novel tells of a naughty boy who is shrunk by a elf and finds himself swept away on the back of a goose. He travels with the flock to the far north of the country and back again, having many adventures along the way. One of the places he finds himself is Skansen.

turf roofed house, Skansen milk churns and crate, Skansen Skansen gardenI knew Skansen was going to be big so I made sure I was there early. As well as the buildings, there is also a zoo and an aquarium. I stayed the whole day – I was able to continue wandering round after it had officially closed, so don’t know at what time they actually throw people out – but still didn’t get time to visit the aquarium. And although I felt like I got a good look at everything else, I would’ve have liked to have been able to take it more slowly. I guess I’ll just have to go back sometime.

trains, SkansenIMG_8295 Skansen houseSome of the buildings have people dressed in periodic costume and demonstrating the skills and trades of the time. I was most interested in the ones involving food, like the bakery below, which was selling the finished product.

Skansen bakery Skansen grocer's bikeThe lady here was making traditional bread. It was only made a couple of times a year and would be a great social occasion as the women would come together to spend the whole day making it. The bread was dried so it would last for months.

Making bread, Skansen Baking bread, SkansenThe zoo had native animals like wolves, wolverines, reindeer and bears. Most of the animals were either hiding in the bushes from the strong sun or running around so fast I couldn’t get a clear photo. But I did catch this sleepy reindeer and bear.

Reindeer, Skansen Sleeping bear, SkansenThere was also a monkey house, but I somehow think these aren’t native.

monkey, Skansen

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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