The Open-Air Museum in Theory and Practice

FORUM for Garden History Research (FORUM för trädgårdshistorisk forskning) invites you to an international seminar at Fredriksdal open-air museum in Helsingborg, Sweden, October 28, 2016.

Invitation and programme_pdf for print


A display of a Cabbage patch (Kålgård) and the maintenance of it at Vallby Open Air Museum, Sweden (photo Vallby Friluftsmuseum; unknown photographer).

The concept of the open-air museum, a display of buildings from different time-periods in a more or less authentic surrounding environment, was a Scandinavian idea in the beginning of the 1900s which then spread to the rest of Europe and the world. One of the challenges the open-air museums are facing today is the management of the gardens and buildings as a unity. There is also a complexity in what the displayed environments represent and how they are used. They were established to display what was typically Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, English etc. As time has changed the definitions on what is typical for a certain time period has changed and today the open-air museums also have their own history to account for in the discussion on values and restoration. The different gardens could be seen as a part of the story of a certain time-period on display or as a part of the history of the open-air museum itself.  The role of the open-air museums are multifaceted as storytellers of the past, pedagogic environments, popular tourist attractions, locales for conservation of native plant material and displays of conservation methods for buildings.

The presentations at this seminar will, in short, deal with the different images the open-air museum could display of the past, how their meaning and pedagogy can change over time and how research can be a part of the management as well as the development of the gardens and the open-air museum as a whole. They will also discuss what stories the museum environment could tell and why and the role of the gardens in this story-telling. Furthermore they will deal with the possibilities of the open air-museums to become places for conserving, and displaying, old cultivation methods and historical plant material as well as what role the visitor could have in developing the open-air museum.

The keynote lectures of the day:

  • Dr Danae Tankard, Historian, Weald & Downland Open Air Museum & Senior Lecturer in History, University of Chichester
  • Katarina Frost, President of the Association of European Open Air Museums, Museum Director at Vallby Open-Air museum, Sweden, and Garden Archaeologist

Special presentations by:

  • Bjørn Anders Fredriksen, PhD, landscape architect, head of The University Park, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway & Monica Mørch, historian and conservator at The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, Bygdøy, Oslo
  • Mari Marstein, conservator and gardener at Gamle Hvam Museum, Akershus, Norway
  • Tove Engelhardt Mathiassen, curator at Den Gamle By, National Open Air Museum of Urban History and Culture, Aarhus, Denmark

Venue: Kulturmagasinet 1-2 at Fredriksdal Museum and Gardens, Helsingborg, Sweden.

Directions: From Helsingborg Central station, take bus no 1, 7 or 11 going north towards Rådhuset (City Hall) and get off at the bus stop Juelsgatan, it takes about 7 mins. Take a short walk from the bus to Fredriksdal at Gisela Trapps väg 1,12.7093466,17z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x46523246ce4d27db:0x19c18ec0c3576e58!8m2!3d56.0574452!4d12.7107954?hl=sv .

At a map over the museum area, our venue is at nr 9, Kulturmagasinet, in the room called 1-2:

Seminar fee: We have a reduced fee for FORUM members so if you are not a member yet, this is a good opportunity. The fee for the seminar is 250 SEK for members and 500 SEK for non-members, including entrance, lunch and coffee October 28. If you are not a member, you can apply on our website.

Registration: register before October 10, by sending the payment to our account signed with your name and also by sending an email to, where you state your contact info and affiliation, if you want to participate in both seminar and evening dinner and if you have any special food requirements or allergies. Information about the venue of the dinner in the evening, at cost price, will circulate separately at a later date.

Payment: before October 10, 2016 to our bank, Nordea. Payment for Swedish residentials: Forum för trädgårdshistorisk forskning plusgirokonto 41 14 60–9. Non-Swedish residentials: Forum för trädgårdshistorisk forskning IBAN SE58 9500 0099 6026 0411 4609. BIC/Swift: NDEASESS. Nordea Bank AB, SE–105 71 Stockholm, Sverige. Please make sure that your name is indicated on the money transfer

Additional info:

Just adjacent to this seminar, on October 26 and 27, the organisations “Gartnerihistorisk netværk” and “Nätverket Trädgårdsmästare i Historisk miljö”, whom we have cooperated with in deciding venue and theme, will arrange seminars and workshops in Helsingborg. Why not attend all three? For more info on their programme, write to or join their facebook page: Gartnerihistorisk konferens 2016. They will start their registration in August.


Friday, October 28

9:00–9:45        Annual Meeting for members of FORUM (Kulturmagasinet 1-2)

9:50–10:30      Registration and Coffee/Tea outside the venue

10:30–10:40    Welcome and introduction – chair of FORUM, Anna Jakobsson SLU Alnarp

10:40–11:00    Short presentation of Fredriksdal Museums and Gardens, Cecilia Wånge, Manager

11:00–11:45    Keynote lecture, Dr Danae Tankard

The historic gardens at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum, West Sussex, UK: a social historian’s perspective

12:00–12:20    Bjørn Anders Fredriksen & Monica Mørch

King Oscar II’s collection of medieval buildings at Bygdøy, Oslo, Norway

Questions and discussion between presentations

12:30–13:45    Lunch, Fredriksdal’s café

13:45–14:45    We meet outside the café for a few stops in the gardens with guides at Fredriksdal

Continued programme at Kulturmagasinet

14:45–15:30    Keynote lecture, Katarina Frost

Garden heritage and plant collections in Open Air Museums, from a European as well as a national (Swedish) perspective

15:45-16:15     Coffee/Tea

16:15–16:35    Mari Marstein

The use of visitor’s knowledge in the maintenance and the presentation of the gardens and         the garden plants at Gamle Hvam, Norway

Questions and discussion between presentations

16:45-17:05     Tove Engelhardt Mathiassen

From houses scattered in a park to an urban setting with historical gardens

Concluding discussion and summary of the day – ca 18:00

19:00              Dinner at self-cost and continued discussions (Restaurant to be announced. Registration for dinner will circulate separately)




FORUM for Garden History Research (FORUM för trädgårdshistorisk forskning) is an interdisciplinary network for those who study or do research on garden history and/or work with historic gardens in different aspects. The network was founded 1995 and has about 80 members.  FORUM arranges a seminar every year and publishes an annual Bulletin.