Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Highlights from the Frilandsmuseet

Over the long, long Easter vacation, I ventured to the northern 'burbs of Copenhagen to the town of Kongens Lyngby to visit the Frilandsmuseet, or Open Air Museum, with my son and some of his toddler buddies. The Frilandsmuseet is part of the Nationalmuseet system and is an open air museum displaying three hundreds of years worth of Danish farms. The cool thing about the buildings is that they are actually real homes, mills, barns and outbuildings from around the country, taken apart brick by brick and rebuilt instead of replicas. They even contain period furnishings, tools and farm implements. There are of course the requisite docents in period dress and bucolic meadows full of farm animals for the children to chase.

Stepping back in time
The museum covers 86 acres and, needless to say, given the attention span and endurance of our pint sized companions, we saw only a small portion of all there was to see. A horse-drawn carriage ride helped us cover more ground and was also a great way to convince our reluctant children to stop throwing stones in the millpond.

The most terrorized chickens in all of Denmark
The museum was founded in 1897, making it one of the oldest of its kind, with some buildings dating back to 1650. Represented are dwellings from all around the country, as well as the Faroe Islands, and the former territories in northern Germany and southern Sweden.

For those of you who just went "Faroe-wha??" they are a group of islands situated halfway in between Great Britain and Iceland in the middle of essentially nowhere. With a population of only about 50,000 people, this autonomous province of the Kingdom of Denmark is another country within a country. If you're into expat reads and want to learn more about the Faroes, check out the fictional novel Far Afield.

An early Vestas prototype

Apparently Danes of yore were a hungry bunch, leading to an interesting, but unrelated, commentary on trends in Danish height. As evidenced by the picture below and reported by Good Morning America, modern Danes are quite tall, with the average male standing 6 feet and the women not far behind. I've been told I'm tall for a Korean, but in Denmark that makes me a little taller than really short. Americans used to tower over the free world, but we have slipped in recent decades and now can only lord over residents of malnourished countries like North Korea.

All in all, the museum was a beautiful place to visit on a warm spring day to learn a little more about the history of the country I'm calling home for a while.

A great time was had by all. Well, everyone except maybe these poor geese running for the cover of the bushes...

You may be fast, little one,
but we are faster...