Skansen Open-air Museum
Djurgården island - Stockholm, SWEDEN
Skansen is the world's first open-air museum and one of the most popular touristic destination in Sweden. It is open all year round and is beautifully located on the on the hill dominating Djurgården island in Stockholm with spectacular views over all the city. The site is known as Skansen (meaning the fort), on account of the small fort built there in the 1810s for Prince Oskar and his officers as a base for defence exercises.
The Skansen open-air museum was founded in 1891 by Artur Hazelius (1833-1901), a Swedish teacher, scholar and folklorist, founder of the Nordic Museum, with the aim to show how people lived and worked in different parts of Sweden in the past before the industrial era. Hazelius dreamed to bring the traditional rural culture of Sweden to life by exhibiting furnished houses and farmsteads, cultivated plots and gardens, and both domestic and wild animals. After extensive travelling, he bought around 150 houses, farms and dwellings from all over the country (and one structure from Norway too), had them disassembled and shipped piece by piece to Stockholm, where they were rebuilt. Skansen became soon the model for other early open-air museums in Scandinavia and worldwide, so that the name "Skansen" today is commonly used in Europe and America as a noun to refer to open-air museums and collections of historic structures.
Today the Skansen open-air museum offers the visitors a unique experience of life in Sweden earlier days, time-travelling through five centuries of Swedish history, from the Skogaholm Manor house built in 1680, to the 16th century Älvros farmhouses, as well as all over the country, from the Skåne farmstead in the south to the Sami camp in the north. All the buildings are surrounded by historic gardens full of traditional plants. There are cultivated beds and gardens appropriate to the period and social class of the occupants. Living interpretation plays a great role in Skansen, since the houses and the farmsteads are peopled by historical interpreters and characters wearing period dresses and telling how people lived in earlier times, while demonstrating traditional activities such as spinning, weaving, knitting and other crafts.
Skansen exhibit includes also a full replica of an average 19th-century town quarter, principally consisting of buildings from Stockholm that were moved to Skansen during the 1920s and 1930s. The town quarter illustrates the urban life in Sweden in the 18th and 19th centuries thanks to dwellings and workshops, in which craftsmen in traditional dress demonstrate their skills and arts in an faithful historic setting. Skansen is also home to some 75 different species and breeds of the Scandinavian fauna, both wild animals and rare native breeds of farm animals. Visitors can also enjoy the children’s zoo, where to meet goats, cats, chicks and other small animals, while the Skansen Aquarium features about 200 exotic species.
Swedish traditional festivals, such as Walpurgis night, Sweden’s national day, Midsummer, St Lucia and Christmas, are celebrated at Skansen in traditional manner, while a variety of other events are organized all year round, as well as theme days. During the summer the Skansen fiddlers and folk dancers perform. Finally the Skansen shop is the best museum shop in Stockholm and offers a wide range of craft products, as well as first-rate modern Swedish design, textiles, books, garden tools, pottery, glass, CD and postcards.
Info & Contact
Adrress: Box 27807, 11593 Stockholm
Tel.: +46 08 4428000 - 08 4428200
Skansen and Stockholm on Google Maps:
Image copyright Marie Andersson