The Ehnographic Open Air Museum attached to the Di

The Ethnographic Open Air Museum attached to the District Museum in Konin-Gosławice

The exposition is attached to the District Museum in Konin, situated in Gosławice city district located near the Gosławickie Lake, north of downtown Konin. Located on a relatively small area, the open air museum displays the traditional folk architecture of the Konin Region. Found here are five structures: a cottage, a barn, two windmills of the “koźlak” (buck) type, and a smithy. The Museum also collects tools used in some of the vanishing crafts. Displays of these trades are held at the open air museum during festivals and museum lesions.

The ethnographic open air museum operates as part of the District Museum in Konin. The objects which can be viewed at the exhibition originate from the territory of the old Konin Voivodeship and today’s Counties of Konin, Kolsko, Słupsk and Turek. In the past, these were comparatively poor regions with unfertile soil and an insignificant amount of timber, which was the basic building material typical for other regions. For this reason, building materials such as clay and stone (the so-called rożnowski schist), uncommon in other areas, became characteristic for the local architecture of the Konin Region. Unfortunately, buildings of this kind have not found their way into the Museum. However the Ethnographic Department is planning to carry out research in rożnowski schist architecture in the near future.

The field exhibition was created from scratch. Previously, the site contained the ruins of a castle. Luckily, the area could also accommodate an exhibition presenting the region’s old timber architecture. Assembled on a small, only 1 hectare in size, area are five objects: a cottage, a barn, two windmills and a smithy. The terrain was marshy and when the open air museum was being established, it was necessary to harden the ground with rubble. Likewise, it was also necessary to see to the thatching of the roof of the cottage and the barn which already existed at the site. As a result, the structures received reed roofs unsusceptible to humidity, rather than straw ones, ever so popular in other regions.

The farmstead which attracts particular attention is made up of a barn and a cottage surrounded with a garden. Due to the lack of space, the farmstead does not include a byre, a pigsty, or a stable. The cottage is of the design characteristic for the western part of the Region: it is made of timber, covered with a hip-roof, and dates from 1784. The inside is furnished in the typical manner with characteristic decorations and household utensils. Found here are such familiar kitchen implements as rolling-pins, moulding-boards or pots, but also ones which may be a bit of a puzzle, like a cheese press or a chest butter holder, used by country housewives to produce larger quantities of butter, mainly for sale. One of the rooms is devoted to temporary exhibitions. Each year a different topic connected with the everyday life of the inhabitants of the surrounding villages is presented. Pottery and weaving exhibitions have already been organized, and a saddlery exhibition is planned for 2010.

In accordance with the local architectural tradition, the barn has a gable roof and its walls are constructed using the piece-en-piece technique (a wall construction consisting of short logs laid horizontally one on top of the other, their ends inserted into slotted vertical posts called uprights) with dove-tail quoins (that is, the profiled ends of the logs overlap at the quoins, jutting over 10 cm beyond the face of the wall). The peculiar thing about this construction is the roof which is not of a gable construction, but rests on vertical posts, called sochy in Polish, dug into the ground, their upper ends forked, supporting a horizontal beam and the gables which rest on it).

The first of the museum windmills was build in the late 19th century and comes from Bochlewa in the Kazimierz Biskupi municipality, one of the towns which had been liquidated due to opencast work in the “Konin” Brown Coal Mine. The mine management offered to move a timber windmill of the „koźlak” (buck) type to the museum (the name of the windmill is derived from the building’s supporting structure which comprises of a stationary “kozioł” – buck, on which the entire building with the driving and grain grinding mechanism rests). The windmill contained its complete and original equipment. Nevertheless, because of the complicated communicational system, the mill’s interior is not open to tourists, but only to students, researchers and specialists. Anyone wishing to see the machinery inside is welcome to visit the museum’s second windmill. It was constructed out of the remains of two destroyed buildings. In the future, its interior will serve as an exhibition room, where it will be possible to promote the creations of regional artists. The second mill is also a “koźlak.” It was assembled from the elements of two destroyed windmills from Kostwasice in the Malanów municipality and Goraniny in the Ślesin municipality.

The smithy is a reconstruction of a building form the village of Tarnowa. However, the furnishing is entirely original and very versatile. It comprises sets of utensils from two different smithies of the Region. The display is not static, but the smithy is the site for displays of shaping hot metal, and twice a year, horses are shoed.

The entire open air exposition has for over ten years been under the constant care of Andrzej Głaz, the Head of the Ethnography Department at the District Museum in Konin. It is he who collects exhibits for the museum, creates exhibitions, and conducts museum lessons. He can also take on the role of the potter, smith or cooper to teach museum lesson, but also to conserve and mend the existing collection. In such a manner, the Ethnography Department conducts its own renovations, reconstructions, and conservation of the assemblages, owned or looked after, made out of wood, metal and leather.

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