This open-air museum features dozens of historic homes, farmhouses, commercial and industrial buildings, and transport from across the Netherlands. You can walk through a low-ceilinged peat home, eel-peddler’s shack, farmhouse, or holiday caravan, watch a cheesemaker use traditional tools, or take a course at a craft workshop. One building is a set of rowhouses with the interiors of each redone to reflect different eras in Dutch life: 1860s, 1910s, 1950s, and 1970s. The museum also has a collection of historical clothing, reenactors demonstrate equipment and techniques, and photo, audio, story, and digital archives.
The idea for the museum came from Dutch retired Lieutenant General Frederic Adolph Hoefer. After a fall from a horse ended his military career, he became a historian. He lamented that industrialization was causing regional differences in the Netherlands and pre-industrial craftsmanship to disappear. He was inspired by similar historic living museums he had encountered in Scandinavia.
The museum opened in 1918. During World War II it sustained damage from bombs. Hundreds of people took refuge there during the Battle of Arnhem, and three children were born there during that time. It has grown over the years to house over 100 buildings, gardens, a historic tram, and a cafe. It is a center of study for Dutch folklore and cultural history.
Know Before You Go
The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in high season (late March to late October). In low season the buildings are closed but the museum grounds are still open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in low season (mid-February to late March). The website has an activity calendar with information about festivals, special exhibits, and classes.
It is accessible by car on the outskirts of Arnhem. There is parking on-site for a fee. It is also accessible by bus from Arnhem Station using either Bus 3 (destination Burger’s Zoo/Openluchtmuseum) or Bus 8 (destination Velp Ziekenhuis). For both routes, get off at the Openluchtmuseum stop and walk 4-5 minutes from the stop to the museum.