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FLAS Notes from the Field: Poland’s Open Air Village Museum

Open Air Village Museum

August 22, 2016

UW Slavic Languages and Literatures graduate student Nathan Marks is currently on a Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowship (FLAS) at John Paul II Catholic University in Lublin, Poland. Nathan’s Polish language and culture program also includes regional excursions, such as this recent visit to a museum of village life.

“On Sunday July 17th we traveled not far outside of the city to the Muzeum Wsi Lubelskiej. It was a wet and stormy day which, though it made our shoes and clothes wet and muddy, reminded us that this was how Poles lived in times past. Though made of straw, the roofs were watertight and the interior of the old village homes were cool and dry with decor ranging from tools to dolls and toys. Hut in the Village Museum

The Muzeum Wsi Lubelskiej is an Open Air Village Museum in Lublin located in the valley of the Czechówka River. It is one of the biggest open air museums in Poland and shows the cultural diversity of the province along with rich architecture and exhibits. It gathers items related to the former way of life in the village, in the manor, and in the small town. It also preserves knowledge about the customs, rituals, traditions, and everyday work of historical Polish life.

The museum in Lublin is a permanent public institution of knowledge and science which specializes in creating, preserving and sharing both material and cultural heritage and social background. The institution plays a significant educational and societal role in popularizing both aesthetic and intellectual needs. This role defines cultural identity as a mediator between the interpreted past and the created future.

Though it was rainy and wet, there were still many other groups and families taking in the educational and cultural experience that the museum has to offer. The atmosphere despite the rain was amazing. I indeed plan to attend again (if time permits) before heading back to the US. A must see is occurring in late July, when the so-called “przednówek” (pre-harvest) will be re-enacted. There will be events on how reaping was conducted and how the harvest was stored and which tools were used.”

Nathan’s participation in this 6 week Polish language and culture program in Lublin has been made possible by a Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowship (FLAS), which pays tuition and a stipend for travel and living. Qualified graduate and undergraduate students of every major are eligible for FLAS fellowships to study abroad and also at UW. Learn more about the FLAS program and how to apply here.