New open-air museum gives Slovene's realistic look at 19th century life


Slovene's are getting a realistic look at what life was like in their country 200 years ago. An open air museum at Rogatec brings to life the everyday-life and tells us why some windows were very small and some door hinges never oiled.

It is the largest open air museum in Slovenia and it is important for Slovenia due to its cultural, ethnological and historical heritage. The museum presents the life and work of farmers and craftsmen at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, in the Rogatec area, which lies in the north-eastern part of the country. The director of the museum:

"It's a cultural monument and the biggest Slovenian ethnological park-typical rural architecture of the sub - Pannonian region of the time from 200 years ago."

Fifteen different buildings and associated materials are on show and they are separated into three different sections. One section is the homestead section with an enclosed garden, a beehive, pigsties and the traditional Slovene hayrack. Typical for this type of farming house was the black kitchen, where cooking was performed in the common room, where the fire burned on the hearth and consequently, the room turned black.

But maybe you would be more interested in the history of the maiden room of the house. Precautions had to be taken so that girls would not fall into bad company. For this reason the windows of this small room were barred by iron crosses and the door hinges were never oiled so that any squeaking during the night would awaken the parents. In the museum there is also a market shop that currently serves as the museum's shop. The third section of the open - air museum is the eating area with a wine cellar. But the museum offers more:

"The museum organises ethnological demonstrations of traditional handicraft and farmers way of life under the general title 'My Grandpa and Grandma' told me each Saturday and Sunday. For announced groups we organise also active ethnological workshops. The visitors cooperate by baking bread, braiding of corn-husks, making paper flowers or just visit the smith in the museum's forge."

In 1997 the Rogatec Open-Air Museum was nominated the European Museum of the Year. There are plans to enlarge the museum with houses of small-holders and stone cutters, a wine cellar and a drying room for fruit and flax. Experiencing history in such a museum can be fun and to see how people used to live 200 years ago is worth a lot. It makes us think about our own life.