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More than 500 years of Westphalian history

On a site of 90 hectares of cultivated landscape the LWL-Open-Air Museum in Detmold gives an overview of the development and the changes of Westphalian everyday and cultural history. Rural life style as well as ancient houses and farms bear traces of more than 500 years of Westphalian history.

You will find completely equipped groups of buildings surrounded by historical utilisable space of land like gardens, meadows, pasture and acres. They were set up according to aspects of settlement geography and show examples of the variety of landscapes, time periods, as well as social and architectural differences concerning building, dwelling forms and economic activities in this part of the country. Historical prototypes for all parts of Westphalia have been and will be built.

A museum has a history as well
The idea of showing rural building and life style in Europe came up about 100 years ago. Resulting from the desire to preserve remains and memorials of the everyday and work culture and to explore the conditions of rural life in the past, the first open-air museums came up in Scandinavia.

In a time of permanently changing living conditions and work situations it is the Cultural Department of the Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe (LWL) that resumes responsibility for the museums. 1960 was the year of foundation and in 1971 the Open-Air Museum Detmold opened for the first time.

However, unlike arts, monuments or musical tradition of the past, it is difficult to reveal our ancestors’ laborious life full of privation, just showing the evidence of their everyday cultural heritage. And, above all, household assets, furniture and devices are antiques sought after for romanticising modern dwellings. Old farmhouses and cottages that are used as weekend homes probably hardly shed light on real living conditions of long ago. This is completely different in our Open-Air Museum.