Skansen: The World’s First Open Air Museum

This generation, with iphones in their pockets, and wireless everything, who (pity them), didn’t grow up watching Little House on the Prairie, have no real concept of life before plumping and electricity, before the Industrial Revolution. These high-tech kids were exactly why Artur Hazelius, a visionary, wanted to create Skansen—a place where the past could be preserved and history revisited.

Our tour began with a taste of fresh baked pastries

The idea was to show people of the 19th Century, never mind the 21st Century, what life was like back when they blew glass by hand and carved furniture with scorps and froes (those aren’t Swedish words) and combed wool.

Below is a furniture factory representative of the 1920’s, pre-IKEA. Think about it, it wasn’t that long ago when craftsmen were doing all this by hand!!!

Furniture making shop from 1920's

Hand carved Nordic design

Founded in 1891, Skansen developed over time to include: farmsteads, a manor, a church, an entire town quarter—showcasing 10 buildings from the 18th century—and a Sami village (the Native peoples of the north). It is the “Colonial Williamsburg” of Sweden and a fascinating trip back in history.

Manor from 1620

My favorite buildings were the Allotment Huts. They were moved from Tanto, south of Stockholm, to Skansen and date to WWI. During the war food was scare, so the government allowed working class families to cultivate garden plots in the countryside and construct tiny, almost doll-sized homes, where they could have their afternoon tea or occasionally spend the night. There were strict regulations regarding size and color; they could only be painted  red, yellow or white.Yellow Allotment Home

Allotment Home kitchen/dining area

The bench behind the table could also function as a bed

The flowers make the simple window beautiful

Skansen isn’t only about preserving buildings; they also have a zoo where you can see rare breeds of Swedish domesticated animals–hearty creatures that have evolved to survive in the harsh northern climates.

Santa’s Reindeer

One “wild” animal

There are wild animals too, Baltic seals, who incidentally, are fed exclusively on cod from the Atlantic Ocean. Excuse me Baltic sea, but the Atlantic is cleaner. Only the best for these Swedish seals.

For more pictures of the animals at Skansen you can click on this link. The Nordic animals att Skansen!.

Our favorite was the enormous brown bear and the baby lynx was adorable too. If given the chance, Maggie would have brought him home:)

Hardware store from early 1900’s

We spent about six hours at Skansen and could have stayed at least six more. We’re definitely going back, if not for the museum than for the food. We had a delicious pita wrap with Elk and Reindeer meat, (Oh my heck, seriously so good!!!) And some not so bad ice cream–which was good:) While none of us can live in the past, it’s nice to know there are places like Skansen where you can return to simpler days. But as for me and my iphone, I think we’re pretty happy right where we’re at.

photo’s courtesy of Lana’s iphone

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