The open air museum at Sanok, in the south-east of present-day Poland, includes 150 buildings, extends over 38 ha. and is claimed to be the largest of its kind in Poland. It was established in 1958 and set an example that was copied in other parts of the country. Like open air museums in other countries it portrays the ways of life of peasant societies before industrialisation, but, perhaps uniquely, it provides a poignant reminder of the various nationalities who lived in this part of Europe who were forced to flee from their homes during and after the Second World War. The museu
m, on a hill above the town, includes buildings from several nearby regions, the Bieszczady Mountains,the Low Beskids, the Jasto and Sanok valleys, the Cięzkowice and Dynów hills, parts of Przemyśl and the Strzyzów hills. The buildings are grouped according to the ethnic groups to which they belonged, the Bojki and Łemki peoples, Ruthenians, Polish Pogŏrzans, Rutheno-Polish Dolinians, Jews and Gipsies, most of whom disappeared from this part of Galicia in the years after 1945. All occupied distinctive buildings and followed distinctive life styles. Their cultures are reflected in their churches and wayside shrines, Greek Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic, as well as a synagogue.
The museum includes many peasant farmsteads, well heads and apiaries carved from tree trunks, highly distinctive windmills, a watermill, a pottery, and an oil well, a reminder of the important role of Galicia in the development of the petroleum industry in Europe in the nineteenth century.