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Pioneer villages

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Pioneer villages, open-air and living history museums are a travel topic.
Upper Canada Village, Morrisburg, Ontario, Canada

A pioneer village is a form of living museum in which a village-size group of historic buildings is restored to their use in an earlier time period, typically with museum guide staff in period costume carrying out the tasks of tradespeople of that era with traditional methods and tools, including or similar to historical re-enactment. The target eras for such historic reconstruction vary, with the "pioneer era" (widespread global colonisation by Europeans in the 1600s and 1700s, ending with adoption of steam power in the Victorian 1800s) among the most popular. Native or Viking settlements are also occasional targets for reconstruction, as a village may represent any era before the adoption of 20th century automation, industrialisation and mechanisation.

Although the term "pioneer village" is colonial in origins and context, comparable attractions also exist in Europe, the UK and other locations, as "living history museums" or "open-air museums". These terms do not have quite the same meaning but, given the substantial overlap, feature here.

Often, the village (or at the very least a distinct group of buildings) in such museums is assembled from authentic local historic buildings which are relocated to a common site as a means of historic preservation; this may preserve structures which otherwise would be lost due to urban development or destroyed by flooding after construction of a hydroelectric dam.

A living museum may not recreate an entire village or settlement; in some cases, just one or a handful of buildings (anything from an individual mill or blacksmith shop to a historic fortress) are restored to operation. Confusingly, the term "living museum" also is often applied to nature museums or protected areas, which are not the same concept.

By its nature, this is not a comprehensive list.


Main Street of Sovereign Hill (Victoria)
  • Pioneer Village Museum, Burnie (Tasmania), covers local economic boom period from 1890-1910.
  • 1 Sovereign Hill, Magpie St, Golden Point (a suburb of Ballarat, Victoria). 1851 gold rush town with sixty historically recreated buildings, costumed staff and volunteers. Sovereign Hill on Wikipedia
  • 2 Timbertown Pioneer Village, On Oxley Highway, Wauchope (New South Wales), +61 02 6586 1940. Very good old timber town of the 1880s set on 87 acres (35 hectares). Timbertown on Wikipedia


Sherbrooke Village, Nova Scotia


  • 15 Boso No Mura (千葉県立房総のむら chiba-kenritsu bōsō no mura), 1028, Ryukakuji Sakae-machi Inbagun Chiba, Narita, +81 476-95-3333. A reproduction of a samurai-era Japanese town street.
  • Hokkaido Pioneer Village, on the outskirts of Sapporo


  • Sarawak Cultural Village, reconstructed native settlements, Sarawak


Line of Staatse (Dutch) troops firing at the Spanish enemy at the 2008 reenactment of the Siege of Grolle.
  • Bourtange, a town, built entirely inside of a 16th-century pentagonal fort, which was fully restored in the 1960s to its state in the 1740s.
  • 16 Nederlands Openluchtmuseum, Schelmseweg 89, Arnhem, +31 26 357-6111. A 44-hectare-large museum that sets out to document the Netherlands' history. Netherlands Open Air Museum (Q674449) on Wikidata Netherlands Open Air Museum on Wikipedia
  • Groenlo holds a bi-annual reenactment of the 1627 Siege of Grolle (Groenlo).

New Zealand[edit]

South Africa[edit]

South Korea[edit]

Nagan Folk Village
  • Seonbichon Village (선비촌), Yeongju, living museum depicting traditional Seonbi life.



See also: Vikings and the Old Norse
  • 17 Foteviken Museum, Höllviken, in Vellinge municipality near Malmö. An open-air Viking museum centered around a large Viking settlement reconstruction. Fotevikens Museum (Q1426033) on Wikidata Foteviken Museum on Wikipedia


  • 18 Open-Air Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Life (Музей народної архітектури та побуту - Muzey narodnoyi arkhitektury ta pobutu), Krasnoznamennaya street, 1, Pyrohiv (near Kiev), +380 44 526 5765. Nineteenth-century Ukrainian life is depicted in six restored rural villages with old huts, wooden mills and churches from all over Ukraine. Description is primarily Ukrainian-language, although some guided tours in other languages are available.

United Kingdom[edit]

Wax candles are home-made at Ulster American Folk Park
  • Beamish, County Durham. One of the best known 'recreation' of a "northern" village in England
  • 19 Black Country Living Museum, 2 Tipton Rd, Dudley (England). Outdoor recreation of the local area on 26 acres (11 hectares), including a coal mine, canal port and rebuilt houses. Black Country Living Museum (Q880185) on Wikidata Black Country Living Museum on Wikipedia
  • 20 Cosmeston Medieval Village, Near Lavernock in the Vale of Glamorgan (Wales). Re-creation of 14th century peasant life in the Late Middle Ages, groups of re-enactors camp in tents around the village outskirts and perform historical combat displays. Cosmeston Medieval Village (Q3404164) on Wikidata Cosmeston Medieval Village on Wikipedia
  • Living History Village of Little Woodham, seventeenth century village on ancient woodland in Rowner (on the Gosport peninsula, Hampshire). Gosport Living History Society villagers dress in costume to talk about Charles I, the impending war between the King and Parliament, their village life and day-to-day existence as if it were the summer of 1642.
  • 21 Ulster American Folk Park, Castletown, County Tyrone (near Omagh, Northern Ireland). Historical lifestyle and experiences of immigrants who sailed from Ulster to America in the 18th and 19th centuries. 30 buildings, agricultural displays and animals, samples of local foods such as smoked salmon and bread, volunteers in period costume demonstrate bread making, cooking, arts and crafts, embroidery, spinning and printing. Ulster American Folk Park (Q3133615) on Wikidata Ulster American Folk Park on Wikipedia
  • Blists Hill, Iornbridge, reconstruction of a partial 19th-century town complete with some shops, a bank and other buildings.
  • 22 Skye Musuem of Rural Life, Kilmuir, By Portree, Isle of Skye, IV51 9UE, +44 1470 552 206, e-mail: . A semi-recreation of a pre-modern Highland village, consisting of single storey cottages and crofts.. £3. Skye Museum of Island Life (Q2414262) on Wikidata Skye Museum of Island Life on Wikipedia

United States of America[edit]

See also: Early United States history, Old West
Covered bridge at Old Sturbridge, Massachusetts

See also[edit]

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List of open-air and living museums