Museum of the Slovinian Village in Kluki

Museum of the Slovinian Village in Kluki

When bad weather reaches Łeba or Ustka, when lying on the beach becomes tedious and the obligatory trip to the sand drifts has been paid, it might be a good idea take a ride for a trip in time and space to the Museum of the Slovinian Village in Kluki.

The Museum of the Slovinian Village in Kluki is a transposition of an old village layout. A stroll among the old cottages shaded by ancient trees may indeed feel like a journey back in time. The unique and fascinating thing about the Museum is that it is not of a “park-type,” but constitutes an incredibly realistic reconstruction of an entire village section. The only access for the motorized visitors is a solitary asphalt road which runs through the village’s, and thereby the Museum’s, center.

Until recently, Slovinians – the native population of the town of Kluki and its vicinity – have not felt neither Polish nor German. They have been perceived as a distinct ethnic group by some, while others regarded them as a part of the Kashubian group, or as “old Kashubian population.” They inhabited a small area between two lakes: the Łebsko and the Gradno Lakes, and their main occupation was fishing. The feature which distinguished them from their Kashubian neighbors was their faith: they were Protestants (Lutherans, precisely). Despite centuries of germanization, which begun in the 18th century, they retained their own language and customs. Their fight for the maintenance of the Slavic culture and language lasted until the Second World War. After 1945, Slovinians, whose language did nevertheless acquire many German loanwords, and who differed through their Lutheran faith, were persecuted. Many of them succumbed to enforced migration to Germany. The inhabitants of Kluki, where the Museum of the Slovinian Village is now located, resisted migration the longest. Only in the late 1970s did the majority of them emigrate, leaving behind their farmsteads and farm equipment. Many of the buildings turned to ruin and could not be preserved, but the activity of the Museum allowed for the salvaging of a number of structures. It should be stressed that many of the preserved structures are authentic and stand on their old sites. The buildings which were relocated, were placed on their old fundaments, recreating the traditional structure of the village. The descendants of the owners and masters of the cottages partook in the reconstruction and the furnishing process. A good example of this is the cottage of Albert Klück, furnished according to the guidelines of his son and grandson.

The Museum owns its creation to a group of social workers and museologists, who were not oblivious to the “Slovinian issue.” The idea appeared in 1958, but the Slovinian Museum Farmstead saw its official opening not until five years later. It was an in situ preservation, that is, in the original location, and the farmstead surrounded with protection belonged to the Reimann Family. Inside, both the history of the local population and the traditional household interior were presented. At that time, Kluki were still inhabited by the native population, but year after year, its numbers dwindled – the old died while most of the young people were leaving (the movement was especially intensive in the 1970s). New inhabitants were few. The abandoned houses deteriorated and turned to ruin, which influenced the local authorities’ decision to commence demolition work. The year was 1974. Luckily, museologists from the Słupsk District Museum took charge of the rescue mission to salvage the characteristic Slovinian architecture and the still-visible 19th century spatial pattern of the Kluki Village. Owing to their campaign and to the reconstruction project of a section of the fishermen’s village prepared by Hugona Ostrowska-Wójcik and Henryk Soja, today, the open air museum possesses five complete fishing and finishing-and-agricultural farmsteads, two individual cottages, a seasonal shed and a storehouse, as well as an area recreating a fishing harbor. It should be emphasized that the salvaged buildings are the only authentic structures in the vicinity constructed with the implantation of the wattle-and-daub technique which is characteristic for this region. The year 1995 was breakthrough – the Museum’s new name, still in use today, was accepted: Museum of the Slovinian Village in Kluki, Division of the Słupsk Museum of Central Pomerania. Also, new staff members were employed with the goal to conduct active popularization work. Until 1995, the assemblages inventory was kept in collaboration with the Słupsk Museum of Central Pomerania, so the Kluki Division possesses only a small inventory of its own. Nevertheless, items of everyday use, photographs, newspapers, postcards, and contemporary handcrafted items are being collected.

The exposition of the Slovinian Village Museum contains five farmsteads consisting of a cottage and utility buildings. Found in the Museum is a fisherman’s farmstead with a fishing storage compartment, boats, a shed where fishermen slept, boats and fishing nets. In the agricultural farmsteads we can find a ground-floor cellar, a small barn, a carpentry shop, an old apiary, the place where turf was being dug, and agricultural implements of various shapes and sizes.

The furnishings of each cottage represent a different stage in the life of the Kluki Village. It is absolutely obligatory to pay a visit the cottage of Charlotte Klück. It is the oldest of all the Museum structures, built in the late 18th century. The rooms, however, are furnished in accordance with late 19th century fashion. Preserved in the cottage is an old heating system, the so-called black kitchen, with the hearth located inside the chimney. The farmstead of the Keitschicki Family depicts the 1950s period, when population from the Vilnius Region began to flow into Kluki. The exhibition presented in this cottage displays the process of the mixing of influences from the Vilnius Region with native traditions. In this way, items like samovars and carpets entered Slovinian cottages.

The fisherman’s cottage of Albert Klück, who was one of the last Slovinian farmers in Kluki, is one of the Museum’s most interesting places. Like most of the village’s inhabitants, Albert Klück was a fisherman, but also a keen carpenter and handyman who built his own boat. The boats used while fishing, in particular the oaken dłubanki (canoes made of hollowed out tree trunks), can be admired in the somewhat removed fishing storage room. What is interesting, the dłubanki have been recovered from the bottom of the Łebsko Lake, and when the dating of the objects begun, it was discovered that they had been made between the years 1420 and 1555! The interior of the nearby shed has been arranged to give it an early 20th century appearance – wooden beds stand in the corners, to the side is a table, and between them are a few benches; in the center, an iron kettle hangs above the fireplace, creating an impression that the fishermen had just left and they will be back shortly with a handful of fish.

Also located in the Museum is a newly added inn building which will serve as a hotel and a restaurant.

The Museum’s offer is very interesting. On every weekend of the summer vacations, bread is baked and folk music band performances are organized as part of the cycle of events entitled “Days with Music and Bread.” At that time, it is also possible to have a close look at the work of craftsmen, who present their skill and give directions pertaining to basketry, pottery, weaving and other disappearing occupations. However, the two main events are the beginning of the season – The Black Wedding – and its closing – Saying Farewell to Summer at the Open Air Museum. Autumn asks what Summer did. The first of these events is connected with the old custom of digging turf, in which the entire village participated. The procedure ended with a village-wide celebration. Today, during the Black Wedding, it is possible to see the production of special “shoes for horses” called klumpy, listen to Kashubian music, see the daily life of Slovinians and taste regional treats. However, if you wish to savor the Region’s delicacies, it is best to visit the Autumn Farwell-saying event, when supplies are being prepared – coffee, sausages, smoked fish, klitundplome (plum soup with noodles) and baked berries with pears.

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