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A Visit to the Black Forest Open Air Museum, Vogtsbauernhof

A Visit to the Black Forest Open Air Museum, Vogtsbauernhof

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In the heart of the Black Forest you’ll find a small village of houses and workshops that feels suspended in time. Thatched roofs, goats, grain mills, and people dressed in period costume from a few hundred years ago…you rub your eyes and wonder, did I discover a German Brigadoon?  No, but the Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof will take you back a few hundred years to a day in the life of a Black Forest village.

I’m a nut for open-air museums. They bring history to life in a way that a textbook just can’t manage. You can see, and touch the things that history books fail to mention. You can span your arms across the bedrooms and bonk your head on the low doorways. And you can hear just how loud a grain mill is (“es klappert die Mühle” “the mill rattles” really doesn’t cover it). Best of all, you can listen to explanations and see demonstrations of how people lived in a time before modern conveniences (like indoor plumbing and sliced bread). I’ve enjoyed visiting the  Vogtsbauernhof in Gutach a few times now. This beautiful museum in the Schwarzwald, with its park-like setting presents life in another time…not too long ago… with exhibits that will interest everyone. Visitors may wander freely around the grounds, in and out of the homes and workshops. Kids will enjoy the animals and the play areas (and they are allowed to touch things!). And naturally, there are cafes and shops.

Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof

Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof

In early June, we visited the Vogtsbauernhof on a weekday morning before the summer tourists arrived. It also meant that there were only a few people making demonstrations on the grounds. Still, every building comes with signage in three languages (German, English, and French.. the French border is quite close, and in fact there were French Schoolchildren visiting on a fieldtrip). Parking is easy, or you can come by train (there is a station near the entrance). After purchasing a ticket, you walk through a modern building with cafe and gift shop… then you step out into the 1600s.

The buildings at the Black Forest Open Air Museum come from all over the Black Forest, and were reassembled here on the grounds. Grab a map, or download the app, and go for a stroll…

Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof

Step into any of the museum homes and you’ll find them set up just as they were hundreds of years ago. The kitchen ready for Oma to start cooking on the stove. Cozy beds piled with fluffy featherbeds. A Kachelofen in the corner. Original furniture and tools… along with explanations on how they were used.

Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof

Despite being the symbol of the Black Forest, the Bollenhut (Hat with Red Balls on it) comes from out of only five villages. Gutach is one of them, and you’ll see them EVERYWHERE. This display shows what it took for a young lady to dress in her Tracht… the steps and layers! Find out more about the Bollenhut here.

Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof

Many of the homes in the Black Forest Museum were built into a hill…downstairs you’d find the living quarters and kitchen (and sometimes the animals0, upstairs the bedrooms, and on top would be the space for wagons and animal feed. The door to the top floor would open onto the hill, so that wagons could be taken in and out.
(This home also displays the different roof styles… thatch or tile)

Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof

People could walk into the house at the bottom... and wagons go out the top.

And the feed could be tossed down to the animals.

Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof

Naturally every home had a garden. And not just fruits and vegetables. Beautiful flowers were everywhere on the museum grounds. The bees buzzing around seemed pretty happy.

Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof

The museum not only planted gardens in front of each of the homes, they also placed a few demonstration gardens around the museum with labels that described what the plants were used for.Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof

Herbs for cooking and healing played an important role on the farms.

Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof

Healing plants are grouped by their properties. Fascinating just how MANY illnesses and injuries could be treated with herbs and plants.
Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof

Along with Houses, you’ll find many workshops in the Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof

Everything needed for a happy and productive life could be produced in the workshops around the museum. Grain would be harvested, then either ground to flour and baked, or distilled into alcohol. Wood could be sawed to build homes and barns, or used in carving. (Don’t miss the display showing how the homes were built!) You’ll find a Blacksmith shop and a Cartwright shop (where the wagons were built). Both an older and a more modern dairy (with a cooling station for keeping the milk cooled) There are even textile demonstrations to see how the flax or wool gets spun into thread or wool that would be woven to cloth.

We arrived just in time to see the demonstration in the grain mill. Grain went into the top…and after a very noisy process… flour came out of the hopper. Naturally, even the mundane work tools and machines were carved to look beautiful. This mill used pounding stones to crush the grain. WOW it’s loud!

Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof

This older mill with a wheel and millstones was used to turn flax into linen. First the flax is threshed to remove the seeds from the stalks. The seeds are turned into linseed oil (delicious over Quark). The millstone crushes the stalks to get the fibers out, they are collected and woven into linen.

Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof

A communal village oven for baking bread.

Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof

The Blacksmith Shop with its GIANT bellows! The shop had a few anvils, but for heavier jobs, there was a hammer connected to a wheel turned by the creek. All over the museum we found ways that nature was harnessed to do heavy lifting.

Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof

Naturally, laundry got help from the sun for drying… some things don’t change.

Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof

And everywhere… you’ll find beautiful flowers in window boxes.

Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof

Visiting the Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof

The Museum is open from March to November. And you are more likely to find demonstrations on weekends or in the height of summer vacation season.

You are welcome to bring a snack or lunch to eat on any of the picnic tables or benches around the grounds. You’ll also find a very nice cafe at the entrance. And if THAT isn’t enough, there are a few places selling food outside the gates.

And yes, there is plenty of opportunity to do some gift shopping! The museum gift shop sells products from the Black Forest, like Cuckoo Clocks and Kirschwasser,  but they also sell other items, like Christmas Decorations and Felted Bags from around Germany.

You can get more information about opening times and ticket prices on the Vogstbauernhof website.

More things to do in the Black Forest

Don’t miss the Sommer Rodelbahn just a few minutes away!

 

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