Den Gamle By is located in Aarhus and it is a bit different from other outdoor museums where you can go and see the old buildings from a country or area. Most of this kind of museums are located away from the city itself and you usually have to go for a while to reach the museum – but this one is actually located in the city itself. And unlike other outdoor museums this one is focusing on a city landscape instead of the usual country landscape you usually meet at outdoor museums.
The buildings in the museum are collected from all over Denmark and there are a total of 75 buildings to go and wonder around. This is a lot more than the simple start to the museum. It was started in 1909 when there was a national exhibition in Aarhus of Danish industry and culture. One local historian had the idea to put an old house at the exhibition area and this was a very popular idea. After the exhibition was closed down it was decided to keep the old house and supplement it with other old houses from around Denmark – this is what slowly grew into the current museum.
The area is divided into different time eras there are currently only three time of history in the museum. The oldest is probably the most interesting – it dates back to 1864 which was a significant year in Danish history. This was the year Denmark lost the second war of Schleswig and had to give up a large part of the country to Prussia. There are several squares with houses from this period and there are staffs dressed in the clothing of this era.
After you have visited the oldest part of the city you can time travel up to 1920. Another important year in Danish history – since this was the year a referendum in the northern part of Schleswig decided a large part of the area would be returned to Denmark and the reunification took place with the king riding over the old border. The buildings are changed here and you will notice some new features when you move from the area of 1864 to 1920. You will see new features have arrived like sidewalk on the streets and bike cycles. There are also gas stations and a bike dealership with a little exhibition of cars from around 1920.
The third section of the city takes you to 1974 – this is a bit worrisome – since I can remember too many of the features on display in this part of the city. The old television shop sells models which I have seen as a kid at home or at friends’ houses. The VW beetle is just all too familiar as one of the most common cars from my childhood – so I am actually getting so old my childhood has made it to a part of a museum.
During our visit to the museum they were working on a new section of the city which will have some houses on display from 2004. This part of the city isn’t ready yet and might not be ready before a year or two but I guess the features in this part of the city will be even more familiar than the section from 1974.