Kulturen was founded in 1892 by local historian, Georg Karlin who also was the managing director until 1933. Karlin was a contemporary of Arthur Hazelius who had opened the open-air museum Skansen just a year before. Skansen had become the model for other open-air museums in Northern Europe.
Georg Karlin saw the old farming society disappearing and wanted to preserve its buildings, togegher with tools, furniture and clothes on the time. Karlin also rescued objects from the medieval period in Lund. In the 1890s, when the city dug its first sewers, he began to collect finds from the excavations. Through a generous donation, Karlin was also able to acquire a farm in Östarp east of Lund in the 1920s. He created a museum in the middle of the existing cultural landscape.
The main museum is located near the historic Lund Cathedral. The museum consists of a traditional museum together with an open air museum with over 30 different buildings. Kulturen has a large and unique collection of more than two million items, including an important collection of historic jewellery from the traditional province of Scania.
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- Karlin, G.J. (1924) Kulturhistoriska museets Östarp. Dess natur, historia och ändamål (Lund: Håkan Ohlssons Boktryckeri)
- Bengtsson, Bengt (1963) Östarp som turistmål. Kulturen 1962 (Lund: Kulturhistoriska föreningen för södra Sverige)
- Mårtensson, M. (1963) Bondens trädgård. Kulturen 1962 (Lund: Kulturhistoriska föreningen för södra Sverige)
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