The Black Forest Open Air Museum or Schwarzenwälder Freilichtmuseum Vogtsbauernhof (sometimes pops up as the Vogtsbauernhof Museum) is well worth a visit. Deep in the Black Forest, it’s one of the rare museums we’ve been back to four or five times now, and enjoyed every visit. We regularly take visitors, and it never fails to impress. If you’d like a taste of the history of the region, this is the place. Family visitors and adults-only groups will both enjoy this extensive open-air museum.
What you will see at the Black Forest Open Air Museum
The museum itself is a collection of farmhouses ranging from 16th to the 18th centuries. There was one house originally on the site, and the others were painstakingly disassembled and moved to preserve this picture of the past for future generations. Each house focuses on different aspects of farm life, or a different generation. The largest (pictured above and below) is such a trip through time – even the kitchen still smells like smoke. The audio guide explains what each room was used for, and it’s been so well set up with period furniture and textiles, that it’s impossible not to feel like you’ve stepped into the past when you duck your head through the door. Fascinatingly, you get a glimpse into how life in these farmhouses changed over time too. The one pictured above was originally home to one large family, but as time moved on, they took in others as boarders, and had to share their dining room amongst three or four different families. Each one of them had a corner to sit in. One of the little elements I loved was how families would hang their washing to dry under the eaves upstairs out on the balcony – it’s out of the rain but still has the benefit of not taking up space outside. My own balcony in our turn-of-the-century house has hooks to hang a washing line for the very same reason.
Great for family visits
It’s a brilliant place to bring small children as kids can run around and touch most things. There are horses and chickens to look at, and an open-air bakery was operating the day we were there, turning out Flammkuchen and loaves of bread. Every day during high season there’s someone demonstrating elements of traditional farm life. We had the good fortune to see a woman hand-weaving amazing ribbons (pictured below, and the fruits of her labour below that). Check the website for details on what’s on the day of your visit.
There’s a whole woodworking workshop full to the rafters with beautiful wooden toys to buy for ridiculously reasonable prices (this is a common theme in Germany). You can watch craftspeople making the toys right there behind the counter as well. If you buy a duck whistle, make sure to hide it until you leave – children aren’t supposed to blow them in the park!
Specific kid-friendly areas to explore
Upstairs from the woodworking shop is an incredible play area built to resemble an attic full of discarded furniture, old toys, and other detritus from earlier centuries – though you need to access it from outside. There are paths through the piled bits, just the right size for smaller people, and the dim lighting makes it the perfect amount of exciting but not too scary. There is a little puppet stage to play with, and lots of secrets spots to discover. Additionally there is another more open play area within one of the farthest houses, with a beautiful space designed to look like the forest. On top of all that, there is an extensive outdoor play area with wooden structures, play houses, a water feature, and a natural rock slide. This is all right next to the outdoor cafe that serves schnitzel, french fries, wurst, beer, wine and ice cream, with plenty of picnic tables with easy sightlines to the playground.
Even if you’re not with kids
The museum is fascinating if you’re not traveling family style too. The audio guide is very detailed, with options to learn more at many spots, so you can take in the whole place or dive deep into a few of the houses at your own speed. There are at least two houses I haven’t even managed to explore yet, despite four visits under our belt. There’s a lovely sit-down restaurant serving more complete meals, as well as the traditional and regional Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, or Black Forest Cake. In fact, on display is one of the first known printed recipes for this regional specialty. The terrace is beautiful in the summer, with views over the rolling greens hills, forests, and picturesque farm houses, with horses wandering in front. If you’re lucky, you will spot some museum staff members in the traditional local costume, which includes the cherry-inspired headgear (pictured below). Unmarried women wore red pom-poms on their hats, and married women had black ones.
Getting to the Black Forest Open Air Museum, opening hours, and ticket prices
It’s worth noting the museum is only open from March to November, except a short period in December for their Christmas market. Do check their site for the exact dates each year. They are open from 9am-7pm, with a last entry at 5pm.
Children 6-17 years old 5.50€ (children under 5 are free)
Family prices vary on how many children you have but for two parents and one child 23€
For two parents and two children 28€
For two parents and three children or more 32€
Getting to the museum
By car, you want to put in 77793 Gutach, and make sure you use the post code, because there is another Gutach, and it isn’t particularly close by!
By train, there is a regional branch line station directly outside the museum. Search for ‘Gutach Freilichtmuseum’, and there is a train that stops there every hour while the museum is open. You can get a reduction of 1€ each on your museum entrance tickets by showing your train ticket too, including Baden-Württemberg day tickets. From Stuttgart, it’s about two and a half hours by train. From Frankfurt, about two hours. It’s a beautiful journey, however!
Schwarzenwälder Freilichtmuseum Vogtsbauernhof
77793 Gutach (Schwarzwaldbahn) , 0 78 31-93560