Despite its location outside of Denmark’s largest metropolitan areas, a museum in the idyllic coastal West Jutland region of Ringkøbing-Skjern has become a huge success with more than 200,000 visitors per year.
The museum’s employees put their success down to their emphasis on ‘living history’,
which allows visitors of all ages to meet the region’s historical residents, from the Vikings to the resistance fighter Kaj Munk, in the places where they once lived.
“In a traditional open-air museum, the objects and buildings on display have been moved from their place of origin,” says communications officer Betina Bach Nielsen.
“Ringkøbing-Skjern Museum, on the other hand, is an ‘organic museum’: we keep the buildings and sites in their original setting,
allowing visitors to experience them in a way that helps to explain their original role in,
impact on and connection to the surrounding space.
We may be geographically peripheral, but our history is central to Denmark’s history, and we have our own fascinating cultural heritage to show people.”
Ringkøbing-Skjern Museum comprises 14 separate sites around Ringkøbing Fjord, spanning more than 2,000 years of history.
The sites feature their own experts providing tours in Danish,
German and English, and invaluable volunteers who help bring the past to life.
“They’re amazing: at the Iron Age village of Dejberg and at Bork Viking Harbour,
some volunteers are even here for several weeks at a time,
living at the site and interacting with visitors as real but fairly well-behaved ancient people,” Nielsen enthuses.
“At Bork, our most visited attraction, children are free to roam around and explore,
but there’s just as much and as many Vikings for adults to see and talk to.”
Other volunteers share their hobbies and special interests with the public, such as the butter-churning, blacksmithing,
lace-making and traditional music night events lined up at the 19th century farmstead Abeline’s Gaard, Living history
named after the young bride who lived there between 1890 and 1957.
Every Wednesday, curious or clumsy visitors also have the chance to be saved from the farm’s neighbouring water-site thanks to the Victorian sea rescue station that Abeline’s fatherin-law manned.
If you do not want to go so far overboard, however, you would be well-advised to visit the still-working Lyngvig Lighthouse, located on the gruesome Iron Coast, instead.
“All this history is part of us,” Nielsen concludes. “Everyone who helps out and visits, helps connect our past and present communities.”
Other attractions include the home of Denmark’s famous resistance hero Kai Munk and the amazing story of a World War II bunker rediscovered in 2008 by an elderly German soldier who had been stationed there.
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