Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Maihaugen - Open Air Musem

by Rebecca May Davie

Maihaugen Open Air Museum

One of the largest museums in Europe, Maihaugen Open Air Museum features 190 buildings and over 50,000 registered items. Visitors can imagine what life was like in Norway while walking through farms and by other buildings from the past. Imagine peering into a house from 1698. If made of stone, that might not seem such a feat. However, the wonder there is that the structures are comprised of wood! These wooden testaments to a bygone era survived over 325 years.

View from Maihaugen Open Air Museum
What is now a wealth of information and experience for visitors began in 1894 with the efforts and vision of Anders Sandvig. A young dentist fresh out of school at 23 moved to Gundbrandsdalen. He served the entire valley with his dental practice. As he traveled throughout the area, he noticed changes in society happening at a rapid pace, new theories and trends threatened to oust old lifestyles and livelihoods. At the time there were rising nationalistic movements. He felt it was vital to highlight the independence of the Norwegian people. He desired to save a legacy for future generations to understand the whole picture.

He began collecting houses and having them installed on his own property but soon needed more land. Working to establish a public museum, these first acquisitions moved to what would become Maihaugen. As he continued in this venture, he realized that separate pieces didn’t provide comprehension of all the aspects of Norwegian life at those time. He wanted the whole story available for generations upon generations. 

He chose farm complexes that comprised of homes, out buildings outhouses, implements, furniture and other bits and pieces that would give visitors a glimpse into the past. Sandvig was the first to move entire farmyards. In 1913, twenty-seven houses were re-constructed at the museum. After, another farm, school, church, homestead, and assembly hall, and a workshop rounded out that collection.

Until 1949, he served as director for this public museum that houses his historic holdings. Spanning the last fifty years Maihaugen expanded to include three new farms, seven houses dating from the 1900s, a red telephone booth, and townhouses from Lillehammer.

After the death of Anders, others contributed to continue to add to the experience. His work was the inspiration for many more buildings and compilations over the years.

Have you ever visited an open air museum? This was a first for me and fellow HHH blogger, Cindy Stewart. Stay tuned for the next installment where you can take a look inside some of the buildings at Maihaugen. What a treasure to see how these Norwegians lived long ago.

As a child, Rebecca loved to write. She nurtured this skill as an educator and later as an editor for an online magazine. Rebecca then joined the Cru Ministry - NBS2GO/Neighbor Bible Studies 2GO, at itsinception. She serves as the YouVersion Content Creator, with over 75 Plans on the app.

Rebecca lives near the mountains with her husband and a rescued dog named Ranger. If it were up to her, she would be traveling - right now. As a member of ACFW and FHLCW, Rebecca learns the craft of fiction while networking with a host of generous writers. She is working on her first fiction novel. This story unfolds from the 1830s in Northern Georgia.


  1. This is fascinating! Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth, NH is an open air museum but doesn't feature nearly as many buildings. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you for posting today. What an adventure! The closest thing I've experienced to this might be an old fort.

  3. I am excited to search for Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth. Thank you, Linda. An adventure for sure! Connie, old forts are fascinating. I've only visited a few, but hope to see more. Which was your favorite?