Maihaugen Open Air Museum

Lillehammer, a resort in central Norway, lies on the eastern shore of Lake Mjosa at the south end of Gudbrandsdalen, the valley traversed by the ancient route from Oslo to Trondheim. On the edge of the town is Maihaugen, an open-air museum incorporating the collections of Anders Sandvig (1862-1950), son of a local fishermen, who studied dentistry in Berlin and moved to Lillehammer when his life was threatened by tuberculosis. He gained inspiration from the theories of Charles Darwin (1809-82) and from contemporary sentiments of Romantic nationalism and began collecting buildings and artefacts, following the example of Artur Hazelius (1833-1901) who opened the museum at Skansen in Stockholm in 1891. Sandvig first displayed his collection to the public in 1904. He conceived it as ‘a collection of homes, where one can almost meet the people who lived there, understand their way of life, their tastes, their work, for the design and furnishing of a home give a picture of the people themselves’. The museum has expanded, but it remains under the management of a private trust, and receives some government grants. It now occupies 36 ha. and includes more than a hundred buildings, most of them from Gudbrandsdalen. The elegant modern entrance building of 1959, enlarged on the occasion of the Winter Olympic Games held in Lillehammer in 1994, contains 44 exhibition rooms, most of them re-constructed workshops showing such traditional crafts as shoemaking, tailoring, umbrella manufacture, gunsmithing, wood engraving, bookbinding, basket making and violin making. The open-air museum effectively displays the architecture (chiefly wooden), arts and material culture of Gudbrandsdalen. Industrial buildings include a corn mill, a dyehouse and fulling mill, a tannery, a brass foundry and a posting station, but Maihaugen is chiefly important to the historian of industry for what it shows of manufactures carried on within isolated farmhouses. A storehouse of 1775 fitted up for the making of spinning wheels, a brewery in a farmhouse from Bjørnstad, and the spinning wheels and looms found alongside beds and cooking facilities in many farmsteads illustrate vividly how goods were manufactured before the Industrial Revolution.

Maihaugen Open Air Museum
De Sandvigske Samlinger på Maihaugen
Maihaugenvegan 1
2609 Lillehammer
+47 (0) 61 - 288900