Open air museums - saved from oblivion
The first Polish open air museum was created in Wdzydze Kiszewskie in 1906. It was founded by the Gulgowski family who were avid lovers of Kashubian culture. Today it is not only a collection of ancient tools, furnishings and clothing in wooden huts, but also testimony to forgotten customs.
Many of the Polish skansens are ‘living’ places where old traditions and customs have been brought back to life. It is enough to have a peek into the Museum of the Slowinska Country in Kluki in Pomorze to see butter still made in churns, how beetroot soup is made, doublet are molded, ropes twisted, and even the peat for heating, which was used by the inhabitants of these Slowinska lands - the Kashubian tribe of people who no longer exist - is dug out.
The skansen of the Lemko Culture in Zyndranowa in Podkarpacie is another testimony to a vanishing culture. In Chyza, in a one hundred year old hut, you will find the typical clothing of this ethnic group, objects of everyday use and even Easter eggs decorated with characteristic Lemko motifs.
Along with these ethnographic groups, entire regions are coming under protection. And so you can find skansens of the Chelm and Podlasie Lands in Hola, the Museum of the Wielun Land in Wielun or the skansen of the Kielce Lands Country in Tokarnia, with a well preserved organist’s house, granary, manor house with farmsteads and the workshops of the shoemaker and carpenter. Buildings representing five different cultural regions have been brought together in the largest of these Polish skansens – The Museum of Folk Architecture in Sanok.
Pastewnik in Przeworsk is a curiosity – it is a skansen and a camping site at the same time. Historical wooden buildings from the area have ben built in the manner of a Galician settlement and they are rented out for a night’s lodging. In the Skansen of Miniatures in Pobiedziska the copies of architectural ‘stars’ of Wielkopolska have been collected. They are identical to the originals, only 20 times smaller. And made of plastic!
Skansens are wrongly associated with country folklore only. The bee skansens in Ostrow Wielkopolski and Swarzedz marvelously illustrate the history of bee keeping in Poland and the unique Weaver’s House in Bielsko-Biala brings us closer the life of artisanal cloth makers.
It is worth visiting the Museum of Roads in Szczecin, the Museum of the Narrow-Gauge Railway in Sochaczew or the Museum of Industry and Railways in Jaworzyna Slaska.