The Ballenberg Open-Air Museum first opened its doors in 1978. At that time, there were just 16 objects displayed in the museum. Today, over 100 historic buildings from all over the country are open to visitors on the museum site.
At the end of the 19th century folklore museums made everyday objects and living conditions of the rural population accessible to a wider public. The systematic collection and exhibition of traditional cultural objects combined with educational goals and the emphasis on reaching a wide audience still characterises open-air museums today.
In 1891, the first open-air museum was opened on Skansen Island in Stockholm. Just 20 years after the founding of the Skansen Museum already almost 20 important open-air museums existed in northern Europe. The most spectacular growth of this kind of museum happened, however, during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s of the 20th century, when innumerable institutions of this kind, among them the first industrial museums and non-European open-air museums, were founded.
In 1968, the "Swiss Open-Air Museum Foundation Ballenberg at Brienz" was founded.
In 1978 the time had finally come: The Open-Air Museum opened its doors.
The opening was celebrated with guests from all over Switzerland.
Parades and music societies were part of the opening ceremony.
Ceremonial address at the opening in 1978.
Even when the first open-air museum in Scandinavia was opened, the idea of having an open-air museum in Switzerland had been launched. However, neither the plans for a “medieval Swiss town” at the Historical Museum of Berne nor the discussions as to whether or not the Swiss National Museum in Zurich should add rural buildings to its collection led to anything. It was not until 1963 that the Swiss Federal Council set up an expert commission to consider the possibility of creating a national open-air museum. As opposed to other locations, the site of Ballenberg managed to convince the commission members of its suitability.
In 1978, the Swiss Open-Air Museum Ballenberg finally opened its doors and was presented to the public during a three-day celebration. After opening with 16 buildings, there were already 25 two years later and a total of 61 in 1985. Today, there are over 100 houses and other secondary buildings at Ballenberg. The basis for the academic concept of the Open-Air Museum Ballenberg was the work done by farmhouse researchers in Switzerland. It was fundamental in ensuring that there was a wide choice of the most important, typically characteristic forms of houses, farmsteads and settlements in this country.
An overview of the most important dates in the over 40-year history of the Open-Air Museum Ballenberg.