Beyond History Blog

Tangible history – The Kiekeberg open air museum

Heike Leiacker - 21. May 2017 - Archives, Societies, Museums, General, Germany, Hamburg

Pretty groups of houses and gardens, vivid and sensorial history, old domestic animal breeds and many opportunities to try out things – the Kiekeberg open air museum near Hamburg is always worth visiting: For interested genealogists who want to know more about how their ancestors might have lived in the region, for general history fans or whole families. There is something for every interest and every age.


The site

Obviously in any open air museum, you will expect various buildings that are true to the original. And of course you won’t be disappointed by the Kiekeberg museum, founded in 1953. The tour starts with the mechanization of the countryside from 1850 onwards, takes you to the postwar period in the countryside, afterwards to a heath village and last but not least to a marsh village. Around those houses you will find various kitchen and flower gardens where indigenous traditional plants grow. Sometimes you will also walk through fields and meadows. Altogether it’s a beautifully created site.


But of course it’s not all about beauty in an open air museum. Obviously for every house and garden there is further information. Some of it is translated into English (but not everything). Furthermore you can download an English brief guide from the website of the Museum. Unfortunately the website is only available in German. This is sad, as I think the museum might be interesting for tourists as well.

In many houses you can see for yourself, how people lived in the past. For modern townsfolk it’s always interesting to see how close people lived and worked. Here is a bedroom and right next to it, under the same roof, are the farm animals. Even if you knew all this theoretically – it is something completely different to see it. Impressive as well is for example the display of an emergency accommodation after World War II.


Animals are an important part of the open air museum. It keeps various regional, often endangered, old farm animals like “Bunte Bentheimer” (pigs) or “Ramelsloher” (hens). This isn’t only good for species protection and entertainment of kids and adults, but also helps to an authentic feel (including smells). This applies even though of course, there are relatively few animals in comparison to real farms.


Not only do the animals appeal to younger visitors, the living history appeals to all ages and can encourage family dialogues. Furthermore there are various hands-on activities and playgrounds. During the warmer seasons the water playground probably is the main attraction. By the way, the admission to the museum is free to everyone under age 18.


Not only interesting for sunny days

The Kiekeberg open air museum obviously is very much interested to not only be attractive when the sun shines brightly. In Northern Germany this is probably not a bad idea. The museum is open all year. Of course you are protected from any weather by the buildings and under bad weather conditions you may even appreciate the indoors more. But additionally there are various indoor exhibitions: the Agrarium, an exhibition focusing on agriculture and food industries in the past, present and future, a permanent exhibition “Spielwelten” (playworlds) as well as an exhibition on traditional crafts in a former barn.


Living History

But the best thing is: You don’t necessary have to explore history on your own. On several weekends a year, actors, usually working in quite different jobs, put on authentic clothing and present everyday rural tasks, mostly handicraft activities. As a visitor you can watch them and of course ask questions. This is how history becomes alive. Pringen Hof and its neighboring buildings revive the time around 1804, in the fishermen’s house, the year 1904 comes to life. There is more information on the dates on the website of the Kiekeberg open air museum (only German).

But also on weekdays and other weekends the museum offers presentations of old crafts or other events: for example plant or cheese markets, beekeeper days, artisan markets, harvesting days or a historic funfair.



Kiekeberg open air museum is located near Hamburg. You can take a bus there.



Kiekeberg open air museum is a good address for a nice (family) excursion where you will learn almost incidentally about history. And not dates and names of famous personalities, but how people lived in the countryside in past times. This is of course especially recommended for everyone who wants to learn more about the living conditions of their ancestors in the rural region around Hamburg.

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