History of the museum

Hjerl Hede’s Open-Air Museum is an officially recognized privately funded theme-specific museum for cultural history. The museum was founded in 1930 by director H. P. Hjerl Hansen and was run by the Hjerl-foundation until 1979 after which the museum was separated from the foundation as a self-owned institution.

The museum consists of the Old Village, the Jutlandic Forestry Museum, and the Museum for Peat production. More than 50 different buildings can be seen at Hjerl Hede’s Open-Air Museum, showing the style of building and furnishing in the rural areas, as well as showing a number of elements which are characteristic for the surroundings of an old Danish village. Among these are the rural craftsmanship.

In the middle of the old village lies the village pond surrounded by farms, a blacksmith, a tavern, a school, a vicarage, a church, and a mill. Among the buildings you will find “Vinkelgården” – which is Denmark’s oldest farm. All farms and houses within the old village are furnished with furniture, kitchen, and textile from the old village societies. In order to show a varying and lively picture of the old Danish village communities, gardens which are characteristic of the period have been laid out at each building. The buildings’ surroundings have been recreated with fields, folds, dunghills, hen houses, and wells. The museum has a large livestock of old Danish breeds, like grey pied cattle, Danish sheep, Danish geese, turkeys, black-brindled (piebald) pigs, goats, and horses which are all a natural and original element in the village.

The Forestry Museum and the Museum for Peat Production illustrate humans’ utilisation of these two landscape types. In the Forestry Museum you can follow the path of the trees, from sprouting in the nursery to the processing of the large logs in the steam-sawmill. The Museum for Peat production shows how the peat mass was transformed into kneaded peat two generations ago. The kneaded peat was used as solid fuel in areas with hardly any trees.

The first living-history event ever was carried out at Hjerl Hede in 1932. Since then it has been developed and improved and today our living-history events are the most comprehensive that any museum can present.

At the museum you meet the master artisan in his workshop. The museum has a long tradition of exhibiting our old village crafts. During the living-history events the workshops are manned and you are invited to see the artisans in their authentic surroundings. The collection comprises a coach builder’s shop, a cooperage, a ropewalk house, a shoemaker’s shop, a clogmaker’s shop, a turner’s shop and a blacksmith’s shop.

In addition you can watch how the carpenter cut his timber and laths with an axe and how he sawed his planks with a handsaw. Hjerl Hede has also taken on thethe task of training new craftsmen in trades, that have nearly died out. Recently we have trained a cooper, who is now a member of the permanent staff of artisans at the museum and has also begun the training of a new coach bulder. A number of handmade products and high-quality souvenirs are sold at the museum store.