Kulturen in Lund is a museum in Lund, Sweden. Kulturen is Sweden's and the world's second oldest open-air museum after Skansen in Stockholm. The complete name of the museum is Kulturhistoriska föreningen för södra Sverige.
In the late 19th century, Swedish society was characterised by National Romantic visions of an idyllic rural society. As more and more people migrated to cities, concern grew that traditions, ways of life and crafts would be lost. The result was the emergence of a movement to safeguard knowledge and artefacts. It was against this backdrop that the Association for the Cultural History of Southern Sweden, Kulturen, was born (1882). The museum "Kulturhistoriska museet", founded among others by local historian Georg Karlin, opened on 21 October 1882 in Kungshuset.
Kulturen’s open-air museum opened in its current location in the heart of Lund, near the historic Lund Cathedral, on 7 September 1892. Its main building, which dates from the early 19th century, came to be known as the Nobleman’s House. Both a farmhouse and a church were also relocated to the museum’s grounds. Together with the Burgher’s House, these buildings represented the four estates: the nobility, the clergy, the burghers and the peasants.
When the City of Lund began what was known as “the great sewer excavation” to lay a new sewer system in 1890, the workers unexpectedly uncovered a treasure trove of artefacts from the Middle Ages. Kulturen bought the artefacts and, about the same time, undertook organised archaeological excavations of their own. In 1909, it was decided that all finds and remnants in Lund city would be curated at Kulturen.
The open-air museum gradually expanded in the decades around 1900. Some of these additions reflected the way of life in the countryside, while others were examples of urban environments. Many of the buildings have been relocated from different parts of southern Sweden, others still stand on their original sites and continue to serve as typical features of Lund’s broader cityscape.
In 1924 an old idea became reality. Through the purchase of the Östarp estate, 25 km east of Lund, Kulturen could display a farmhouse with an enclosed courtyard typical of Skåne Province. While the original plan was to relocate the farmhouse to the open-air museum, the opinion was that it was “so wonderfully situated that its transfer would amount to sacrilege,” and so it was allowed to remain where it stood. And there it stands to this day!
As an arts and crafts college located within a museum, Kulturen’s former School of Handicrafts was something quite unique. The college operated from 1896 until the early 1930s and offered training in forging, textile handicraft, ceramics and furniture design. Here students learned to fashion new objects based from time-honoured materials.
An entire city block was added to the open-air museum in 1926 (the Southern Area), and in 1929, the White House (built in 1854) was officially opened as the museum’s new main building. The White House was given its name because of its alleged resemblance to the US president’s residence in Washington D.C. Today, the open-air museum consists of around 40 buildings and is one of Sweden’s largest museums.
The museum’s first-ever artefact was acquired on Midsummer’s Day, 24 June 1882. It is a silver goblet, used as a shot glass, made in Växjö in 1782 by the goldsmith Axel Johan Limnell. Nowadays, the museum’s collection consists of around 250,000 artefacts of cultural and historical value, 500,000 photographs and 1 million archaeological finds.
There is always hustle and bustle at Kulturen in Lund with a wide-ranging programme of activities for all ages. Kulturen in Lund also celebrates a number of festivals and traditions that attract many visitors, such as Easter, the National Day, Midsummer’s Eve, The Culture Night and The Night of Ghosts. The Christmas season at Kulturen starts the first weekend of Advent with a large Christmas fair (Julstöket).
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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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