Maihaugen (“May hill”)

Maihaugen’s Open Air Museum. Click here to enjoy a brief walking tour of Maihaugen, Europe’s largest outdoor park.

The Open Air Museum at Maihaugen (“May Hill”), a traditional picnic location in the 19th century for people near Lillehammer, tells the story of people in the Gudbrandsdalen Valley over the last 300 years. It illustrates with real homes, traditional life between the wars in the inland town of Lillehammer and of homes and domestic environments in the 20th century. The calm and spacious landscape of the museum provides insight and time for reflection.

Bjornstjerne Bjornson Portrait
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (1832-1910) wrote the poem that later became the Norwegian national anthem. His first novel, Synnøve Solbakken was a favorite of Marie Fladvad Cottrell.
The park also includes the home of noted Norwegian author, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson.

Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (1832-1910) holds a prominent place in the hearts of Norwegians, primarily because he wrote the poem that later became the Norwegian national anthem in addition to many other poems and stories.

Author Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (1832-1910, Nobel Prize for Literature, 1903) wrote the poem that later became the Norwegian national anthem in addition to many other poems and stories. Bjørnson published his first novel Synnøve Solbakken in 1857.

His approach as a novelist was to tell the stories of ordinary people, using everyday language based on the vernacular of the region–an unusual technique for this period of literary history.

Marie Fladvad Cottrell, whose manuscript cookbook is the basis for Flavors of the Fjords, enjoyed Synnøve Solbakken and bought an English translation in Oslo in 1906 when she was visiting her homeland on an extended visit. She gave it to her husband, Charles Middleton Cottrell as a Christmas present in 1906. Flavors authors Faith and Tracy Connors still read Synnøve Solbakken aloud to each other during the Christmas season.

The Rural collection at Maihaugen represents farming communities in the Gudbrandsdalen Valley. The Rural Collection includes timber-built farms, the stave-church, the summer-pastures and the lumber-camp.

Synnove Solbakken Title Page
Bjornson’s first novel, Synnove Solbakken (1857) was enjoyed so much by Marie Fladvad Cottrell that she gave an English translation to her husband, Charles Middleton Cottrell for Christmas, 1906

The Town at Maihaugen illustrates life between the wars in an inland town. Along the main street are old buildings from Lillehammer, creating intimate courtyards.

The first complete farmyard reconstructed at Maihaugen, was the Bjørnstad farm from Lalm, Vågå.

The landscape was reshaped to recreate the original order and space as far as possible. The recreation of the Bjørnstad farmyard was completed in 1913. Similarly, several farms, cotters’ places, and the other houses belonging in a country community have been established. The Garmo Stave Church, possibly the most well-known landmark of Maihaugen, was consecrated in 1921. The most recent farmyard, the Jørstad farm, was completed before the Olympic Winter Games in 1994.