The Open Air Museum - Croft of the Region of Pszczyna
Open Air Museum – Croft of the Region of Pszczyna
The Open Air Museum – Croft of the Region of Pszczyna is a unique place due to its location. The little open air museum in situated among the trees of the heritage Manor Park in downtown Pszczyna, close to the city market square and the aurochs farm. It contains 14 structures which are exemplary of the timber architecture of the land, dating back mostly to the 19th century.
The Open Air Museum – Croft of the Region of Pszczyna was created in 1975. Until April 2008, it was governed by the Society of the Region of Pszczyna and was subsequently taken over by the Agency for the Promotion of the Pszczyna Land. The Museum came to be as the result of the personal engagement of amateurs, aficionados of the Pszczyna Land and the region’s folk culture. The initiator, the creator, and the good spirit of the Museum in Alexander Spyra; the essential support was granted by the then Director of the Museum of Interiors in Pszczyna, Igor Płazak. The aim of the institution was to salvage as much of the remaining heritage objects bearing witness to the folk culture of the Pszczyna Region as possible. The emerging museum was located on the 2 hectares of the Heritage Manor Park which is a particularly valuable ancient forest containing massive petiolar oaks, horse-chestnuts, yew-trees, lindens, hornbeams, elms, maples, beech-trees and tulip trees. In addition, the park is intersected by a picturesque creek.
The Museum was designed to reflect the look of a rich peasant’s farm, which consists of the living quarters and farm buildings: a granary, a barn, a carriage room, a windmill, a shed for storing hay and a few other structures. The insides were adapted for the purpose of exhibitions depicting the furnishing of interiors of a peasant’s room, a smithy, a stable (a building in which horses and sometimes carriages were kept; the building’s attic was used for storing hay) and a carriage house. In these buildings, various thematic exhibitions presenting tools used by weavers, blacksmiths and carpenters have been set up. Different types of horse-drawn vehicles and machines for processing cereal are also on display.
The oldest structure in the Museum is a stable from 1799. This original building consists of two parts: the front, which is older, is an example of the curb-plate construction, while the rear section, which was added later, represents the pillared construction. An arched gate leads into the building. The two-winged doors are equipped with a wooden lock with a ratchet-and-pawl mechanism.
The main object of the Pszczyna Farmstead is a cottage from Grzawa dating from 1831. It is a 4-room structure with a central vestibule. Assembled in the main room are many interesting items, like a cottage cheese press, a painted dowry chest and holy paintings like the one representing saint Barbara, the patron saint of miners. Installed in the second room, which is a bedroom, is a breathtaking wooden polychrome house altar of considerable size, a bed with kuloki and a cradle. The third room used to belong to the senior landlords, the grandparents. It is the most humble of the cottage’s interiors, but equally interesting as the other quarters. The seniors’ room contains an awe-inspiring painted 18th century wardrobe and a collection of oil lamps and costumes of the traditional Mikołaje (Santa Clauses) caroling group.
Other interesting objects include a small mill with a metal propeller, once used for the processing of animal feed and groats; a beautiful, wooden, six-sided well, covered with a small roof; and also a monumental eight-sided barn from the Kryry village, characteristic for the Pszczyna Region. The barn contains an exhibition of old carts. Among the assembled objects, an ornamented black country caravan from Pawłowice draws particular attention.
Although the Pszczyna Village Farmstead is rather small in size, the beautiful location and the interesting structures and objects render it a considerable tourist attraction, frequented by tourists on their way to or returning from the Castle of the Princes of Pszczyna. It is already possible to traveling from the Castle to the Museum in a chaise, and in the nearest future, a unified ticket for all the attractions of Pszczyna and its vicinity will most likely be introduced.
The Pszczyna Village Farmstead is planning to expand its educational and administrative facilities. Already underway is the renovation of the granary, which will serve as the site for ethnographic workshops and museum lessons. Next in line is the construction of a new administration building, an umbrella roof for outdoor workshops, a picnic area, and two ponds. Renovation of the “Stary Młyn” Inn (The “Old Mill” Inn) has also been planned; the building dates back to the 19th century and at its time functioned as a millhouse in the village of Bojszowy, to later become the Museum’s restaurant. Another major investment is the planned construction of a new Museum entrance.
It is worthwhile to visit the Museum on the first Saturdays of the spring and summer months, when it is possible to encounter the beekeeper Paweł Kowalczyk in the Museum’s apiary. Paweł Kowalczyk takes care of the bees which inhabit the relic beehives and sells honey.
The Museum has created two cyclical spring events: “The Meetings under the Brzym” (meaning larch in the Silesian dialect) and the Small Brzym. During these events, guest have the opportunity to listen folk bands from the Pszczyna Region and buy handcrafted folk art. Outside of the events, guests may visit the gift shop inside the ticket office building. Children can befriend sheep and goats which graze on the farm’s fields in the summer.
For those visiting Pszczyna, the Pszczyna Village Farmstead is a wonderful complementation of the nearby Castle and its heritage park. Thanks to the farm, tourists who draw in from all over the world to see the wonderful magnate residence, also have the chance to learn of the other side of the history of the Pszczyna Land – of the life and the spaces of living of the Region’s villagers.