Folk Culture Park - Open Air Museum in Kuligow upon Bug
Open Air Museum in Kuligów
How many times have you heard the question: what open air museum is situated closest to Warsaw? Where to go for a trip? What is interesting in the vicinity of the capital of Poland? Answers to those questions arose unexpectedly, as well as the information about the open air museum in Kuligów near Radzymin. If you catch a bus from the bus stop Dworzec Wileński, it will take you an hour to get there. Picturesque Mazovian village, overflow area of the Bug River, roadside chapels, forests, and fields.... It is very easy to leave a crowded Warsaw, move to the Polish provinces, and be away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
The area around the open air museum in Kuligów is extremely interesting. We cannot recognize it neither to the region of White Kurpie stretching away on the other bank of the Bug nor to the borderland between the Mazovia Province and the Podlasie Province inhabited by impoverished gentry. It is not in the centre of the Podlasie Province either. Finally, it is not the countryside being absorbed by the metropolis. This is how Wojciech Urbanowski the founder of the open air museum in Kuligów describes it on the museum website: ‘It is a place where the mutual influence of these two regions were interspersed, the Catholic, the Evangelicals, the Jews and members of the Orthodox church used to live in harmony next to each other. A place where on the farmer’s market came a native Mazovian as well as a melodiously speaking inhabitant of the Podlasie region. I still keep in my mind the cultural landscape: wooden cottages cover by a natural material, hand-made tools, spoken language and natural landscape: flat, monochromatic and colourless.’ (www.skansen.powiatwolominski.pl)
Since 2000 the Park of Folk Culture has been constantly developed and new buildings erected. Thanks to the total commitment of Mr Urbanowski, everyone can visit the roadside smithy, a cottage, a granary, a barn, a small-gentry manor house and a cart-shed. Visitors can also take part in many events such as painting in the open air, culinary shows, concerts and handicraft workshops. There is always something going on. And suddenly, when nothing happens unexpected guests like the Bolshevic army appear on horseback. Yeah... the lads look as if they were taken from the set of The Battle of Warsaw 1920. They are members of the re-enactment group from Arciechów and are coming to visit Mr Urbanowski.
Wojciech Urbanowski is not only the initiator of the open air museum in Kuligów but also its conservator and spiritus movens. Kuligów will not be the same without him. As an ethnography enthusiast, he decided to carry out documentation of the borderland between the Mazovia Province and Podlasie Province on the Bug and to promote its culture.
‘The intention of the open air museum is to show a gentry croft, a lifestyle from that period of time and to familiarize with local professions. We would also like to show the topics related to horse-drawn vehicles with the entire background like a work of rope maker, wheelwright, blacksmith, and saddler. We intend to illustrate scenes from the life of local people and their daily routine’, says Mr Urbanowski. (www.skansen.powiatwolominski.pl).
An anvil, which was taken by Mr Urbanowski from his family house, originated the open air museum’s collection. The sound of the anvil accompanied him from early childhood. His grandfather and father were both blacksmiths, and to continue the family tradition he organizes blacksmith’s demonstration in the open air. He also reconstructed a saddler’s shop, a carpenter’s shop, a carding mill, and magiel (a place where linen is pressed) which was used by the Wołomin inhabitants.
In the museum there are exhibits gathered from both the vicinity of Kuligów (Radzymin, Wołomin and Wyszków) and much more remote villages of the Podlasie region, where the oldest items came from. Although, the museum collection increases every year, Mr Urbanowski knows the history of each item. Even though, he cares for the collection with passion and dedication, people unwillingly hand them over to him. They do not want to get rid of the family mementoes, or even the antiques lying in lofts. They know how much they are worth, and now they want to sell them. But there are also days when the museum is visited by the extraordinary donor. Some time ago, the granddaughter of the Lviv carpenter donated the carpentry shop’s equipment.