The Old Town in Arhus, the principal city of Jutland, is unusual amongst European open air museums in that it consists largely of urban buildings rather than farmsteads that have been removed from their original sites and re-erected, and that it is located close to the modern city centre.
The museum originated in 1908 when it was proposed to demolish the Old Mayor’s Mansion in Arhus. A local teacher and translator, Peter Holm (1873-1959) argued that it should not be destroyed, and it was carefully taken down and re-erected at the Danish National Exhibition held in Arhus the following year. It was then moved again and was the centrepiece of the museum when it opened to the public in 1914.
It now comprises 75 buildings from 20 towns, most of them in Jutland. Early industry is represented by a water-powered wool spinning mill, a steam-worked weaving mill, a brewery, a distillery, a tobacco warehouse, a tannery, a printing shop and a rope walk. The buildings also include workshops of a glover, a hatter, a sail-maker, a saddler and a candle-maker. There are displays illustrating the history of clocks, toys, silverware and pottery, and the theme of textile production can be followed throughout the museum. The Old Town is one of the most popular museums in Denmark and is visited by some 3.5 million visitors a year.