The Austrian open-air museum Stübing is one of the largest of its kind in Europe. On an area of about 65 hectare it shows about 100 historic buildings from all over Austria, most of them farm houses. The museum shows life in rural Austria during the last 600 years.
The Austrian open-air museum Stübing was founded in the 1960s and opened to the public in 1970. At that time it contained 36 buildings and has since then been growing continuously. All objects are original rural buildings which have been dismantled on their former site, restored and re-erected on the land of the museum. The buildings come from sites all over Austria and even South Tyrol, only farm buildings from Vienna are still missing in the collection.
A Walk Through the Past
At the entrance there is a modern building containing a museum which gives some background information on the life in rural Austria in the past. There are also regularly new special exhibitions.
A wide, unpaved footpath leads visitors from the entrance building through the different parts of the museum. The main path often branches off left and right, leading uphill to different clusters of buildings. They are arranged by the geographic area of their origin so each farm always gives an authentic impression. The different farmsteads most of the time do not only consist of a single building but of the farmhouse as well as stables, barns and other connected buildings. All gardens are planted with typical flowers and herbs, buzzing with bees and butterflies in summer. While most of the buildings are from the 18th and 19th centuries, some date back to the late 1400s.
The way leads from farm buildings made of stone from Burgenland in eastern Austria to wooden alpine buildings from Vorarlberg Austria at the far back of the valley. Most of the time the main path follows a little stream and is often shaded by trees. Visitors can enter almost all the buildings and often even climb the (most of the times rather steep) stairs to upper floor bedrooms. They can experience the various building shapes and materials which were used in different parts of the country. But the museum also offers a good comparison between different classes of farm workers like the simple huts of woodworkers and the large houses of rich farmers. All buildings contain furniture, household objects and everything else which people needed in their daily lives.
Apart from farms, the museum also shows other buildings of the daily life in rural areas like a smithy, a lumbermill, a school building and a small shop where visitors can buy sweets. There are fields with typical crops and even some animals like sheep and goats and a fish pond.
Stübing is a village situated only 20km north of Graz, capital of the Austrian federal state Styria. The autobahn conveniently passes right next to the village, but it can also be reached with public transport. There are parking lots along the street in front of the museum. The open-air museum itself lies at the outskirts of the village and covers most of the bottom of a small valley between forested mountains. Be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes for your visit, as you will have to explore the whole museum on foot.
If you are hungry and didn't bring your own lunch, a historic inn offers traditional Austrian dishes and the café at the museum's entrance serves homemade cake and snacks. A shop sells books, crafts, clothing, food and other items. There is a play area for children at the centre of the museum, and they will also enjoy playing in the stream and the wells. Dogs are welcome as long as you clean up whatever they leave behind.
Wheelchair accessibility is a bit of a problem for the open-air museum as naturally all the old buildings have not been constructed with wheelchairs in mind. This means there are often steps without any ramps or elevators, as well as narrow spaces. While the main footpath is even and well maintained, some side paths are rather steep, which can also be a problem.
Throughout the year the museum has special events, often at various holidays. They can involve anything from traditional music to shows of different crafts. Some events require advance applications. The open-air museum also offers many courses where people can learn, for instance, old crafts like making shingles or baking bread.
The museum is closed from November to March except for some special events, mostly before Christmas. There are entry fees for the open-air museum. There are concessions for children, students and families.
There are other open-air museums showing historic buildings of different regions in rural Austria, so if you are in Austria but can't make it to Stübing, one of the other museums may be an option.
Burgenland: the village museum Mönchhof is a collection of 35 residential buildings, school, church, inn and other buildings of daily life, arranged like a typical village.
Lower Austria: the village museum Niedersulz shows about 80 buildings from north-eastern Lower Austria arranged like a village, complete with gardens and some farm animals like chickens, pigs and donkeys.
Salzburg: with a collection of about 100 buildings and 7km of footpaths, the Salzburg open-air museum in Großgmain is as large as Stübing. It shows buildings from all areas of Salzburg and even has a train for visitors to go from one end of the museum to the other.
Tyrol: the museum of Tyrolian farms in Kramsach is a collection of the rural architecture in one of the most alpine regions of Austria. The museum consists of about 40 buildings.