The Lublin Open Air Village Museum

The Lublin Open Air Village Museum

The Lublin Open Air Village Museum was established in the early 1960’s, initially as the Department of Folk Architecture at the District Museum in Lublin. Less than a decade later, on 1st January 1970, it became an independent unit. Early problems regarding its location were solved in 1975, as the museum was granted 27 hectares in the suburb of Sławinek. The first section, The Lublin Upland, opened to visitors four years later. Today, seven sections of the collection are available, presenting various aspects of the regions that constitute the Lublin voivodeship (in its shape predating the administrational reform of 1975), as well as the life in a gentry manor and a small town. Architectural monuments represent the regions of Podlachia, the Lublin Polesia, the Vistula Region, Roztocze, the Lublin Upland and Lublin Land. The museum has been in operation for over three decades and it is constantly enlarging its collection and improving its facilities.

The Museum is located at the edge of the city, close to the main road to Warsaw. It can be easily reached by city transport. A guided tour takes only two hours, but visitors are advised to set aside more time than that, firstly because sections of the skansen are quite distant from one another (with enticing benches and picnic areas in between), secondly because it is worthwhile to find out more about the exhibits and to contemplate the furnishings of each room. The Lublin skansen’s displays have won several awards from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.

In the manner the museum is organised, the personal approach to exhibits is especially appealing. Each edifice is provided with a plaque detailing its history. The homestead of the affluent Bednarz family from Roztocze has a wide-fronted cottage dating from 1798. Its hipped roof is covered with step-like thatch with the sheaves laid ears up. Most interesting are also a four-chamber cottage with dovetail corner joints, which used to belong to the Burdziński couple – members of the Secular Franciscan Order, and the furnishings and goods of the 1920’s village shop managed by the widowed Mrs Książko. The interiors reflect the lifestyle and professions of their former owners, and even the size of their families.

At the end of the visit, a visit to the local pub is an absolute must. On the menu are not only beer and other alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, but also excellent pierogi and a typical Polish snack: bread with a lard spread (a note to the smokers: the pub is the only place in the skansen where they can indulge in a smoke). The pub’s attractive building is a village school dating from 1866.

The Lublin Open Air Village Museum is worth returning to all the year round, as the museum life never falters, tourist season or no: even in the depth of winter guided tours are available (by prior arrangement, tel. 081 5338513 or 081 533 3137). Research is conducted all the year round, too, enabling the museum staff to recreate the conditions of life in the region. The archives contain many photographs and prints, as well as interviews relating to the skansen buildings.

Thanks to research and the invaluable help of an experienced miller, the venerable “Dutchman”, a windmill from Zygmuntów near Pilaszkowice, is now operational. It is worth seeing, as tower windmills of the Dutch type (that is with a masonry tower sitting firmly on its foundation and a rotating timber cap with sails placed on top of the tower) were rare in the Lublin region. Apart from that, this windmill has a secret history from the period of the Second World War. The common room of the Bedlno fire station, dating from 1936, is now the seat of an amateur theatre, just like it used to be before the war. Temples brought to the Lublin museum: the Roman Catholic church in The Small Town section, built c. 1686 and consequently the oldest edifice in the skansen, and the wooden, dovetailed Greek Catholic church from Uhrynów, dating from 1795, are also living places of worship. Services are held there every Sunday and on special occasions: weddings, christenings or religious holidays. Those wishing to participate in a service enter the museum grounds without charge.

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