An open-air museum (or open air museum) is a museum that exhibits collections of buildings and artifacts out-of-doors. It is also frequently known as a museum of buildings or a folk museum.
The concept of an open-air museum originated in Scandinavia in the late 19th century and spread widely. A comprehensive history of the open-air museum as an idea and institution can be found in Swedish museologist Sten Rentzhog's 2007 book Open Air Museums: The History and Future of a Visionary Idea.
Living-history museums, including living-farm museums and living museums, are open-air museums where costumed interpreters portray period life in an earlier era. The interpreters act as if they are living in a different time and place and perform everyday household tasks, crafts, and occupations. The goal is to demonstrate older lifestyles and pursuits to modern audiences. Household tasks might include cooking on an open hearth, churning butter, spinning wool and weaving, and farming without modern equipment. Many living museums feature traditional craftsmen at work, such as a blacksmith, pewtersmith, silversmith, weaver, tanner, armorer, cooper, potter, miller, sawyer, cabinet-maker, woodcarver, printer, doctor, and general storekeeper.
Open air is “the unconfined atmosphere…outside buildings…” In the loosest sense, an open-air museum is any institution that includes one or more buildings in its collections, including farm museums, historic house museums, and archaeological open-air museums.