Blacksmith from Bornich Assembly Westerwald, sheep in the foreground House from Altenburg Fountain with geese in front of the smithy Yard off HANF Blacksmith from Bornich House from Bilkheim


Westerwald stretches as hill country between the river Sieg in the north and the river Lahn in the south and belongs in part to Hesse. Only the Rhenish area of Westerwald is presented in our museum. It has certain similarities to the Eifel, but in most places is not so forbidding and raw. Up to the end of the 18th century Westerwald was regarded as a wealthy region. It was rich in timber, had good commercial connections and the people kept a lot of cattle. Due to over-felling in the forest during the 19th century, however, great poverty arose. Many Westerwald citizens emigrated to America. But it is not possible to depict people’s misery in a museum.

Forms of farmsteads and settlements

Westerwald is a typically German low mountain range. It is a region where people lived in villages. No widely scattered single farmsteads, nor any small hamlets, but more or less large villages became established here. The houses were built and jumbled together as villages, whose streets and alleys were correspondingly angular and irregular.Westerwald ends where the Rhine cuts into the mountain range. The settlements in the Rhine valley – at the Middle Rhine between Bingen und Koblenz – differ from the villages in the hills, above all because there was less available space upon which to build. The fact that people lived there despite this had a lot to do with wine growing. Therefore you will also find a Rhenish wine-growing farmstead in the Westerwald Group of Buildings.

The buildings are clearly divided according to their different uses. In the past combining buildings, such as residence and stables, or barn and stables was the exception. For every function there was a separate, own building. The oldest preserved Westerwald houses were originally „smoke-houses“ without smoke extraction through the roof. In the 17th century wooden chimneys were first mentioned in fire regulations.


House from Ruppenrod


They are at the hearth of the house from Ruppenrod. You can see that over the stove place in the corner hangs a large flue lined timber. Also the chimney, the flue via the forwards, was originally made ​​entirely of wood. But next to an open fire produces smoke and sparks. Therefore, wooden chimneys were the modern state as a fire hazard. In the 19th Century forbade them unceremoniously. Woe to him that there lived an old house!

Woodturning Workshop

Turned were many everyday objects: bowls were turned out of a block of wood, chair legs and kids roundabout. This required a special bench, the lathe on which the piece of wood can be pivotally attached and then be set in motion. Here is the oldest and a newer form of lathe are placed. You can see a wooden Wippdrehbank which is operated with the foot. A step on the pedal, the workpiece can be rotated briefly. To come again to the wood but must turn first to its original position. The turner must always begin again, and the work is slow.

There was therefore a variety of mechanical improvements, in which the workpiece has been a centrifugal mass is always maintained in the same rotation. Only about 1900 machines with engine stopped and in small workshops collection, thanks to the current.

Haus from Bilkheim

The first impression is a very rich house: It consists of more than wood infill. The extremely thick beams are in truth only boards: They are much thinner in cross-section, as it is spreading outward show. It is therefore a client who wanted to appear his wealth bigger than he was. Maybe he needed that.

Read the sentence, which is cut an inscription over the door:


Come before him in the usual information on the house - who built it when - an entire verse is quoted. The Bible quote is ambiguous: For the fact that the Bible is mentioned, the host makes it clear that the text of Scripture, he attaches great importance. For this purpose he chooses but just that sentence of John's Gospel, on the Protestant denomination has established its reputation liked "Back to the Word of God." We do not know whether the builder Matthias Kloft was a Protestant. But to bring in a Catholic village a Protestant door saying, needs requires a lot of courage

have - and self-confidence. So self-conscious, like the construction of the house is expensive and complicated. However, this wealth was in 1687. The prosperity was based on the Westerwald large forests and equitable ownership. As the 19th Century increased the number of births and ownership shifted, the arable land fragmented into small and smallest plots. Hardly a peasant could now live on his farm. Now, just at the beginning of industrialization, on the eve of modernity, in the Westerwald broke the abject poverty.

Unlike many older homes the space for the hearth is built from brick high. On the stone pedestal, the fire burned at knee height, which was a great advantage, because the hostess had not stoop down to the ground. By this means all later ovenware got the name "stove" - only that the fire was no longer with them on the stove, but the stove. The smoke of the hearth fire moved through the room into the roof and from there into the open. It is therefore a so-called smoke house, as you can find some in the museum.

Unusually, however, the jewelry in the room: The small boxes of plaster between the broad woods of the truss are carved cross. This so-called scratch coat was an additional loosening of the surface. He has the eye of the beholder for a nice cushion. The builder of this house prepared by simple means a comfortable environment possible.

As the successor to the builders lived over two hundred years here, does not show the house. In the museum, only one particular state are represented. If the original state showed all had BY THE NEW changes in the reconstruction of the house be undone. Especially in the Westerwald, life through the unique historic poverty should be the 19th Century but changed greatly.

The Sümmermacher wooden baskets made ​​here, who had a very specific size. "Sümmer" in the Rhineland was an old unit of measurement for grain. While one would measure the weight but today - "a pound of wheat, one kilogram of rye" - the Sümmer was a measure of capacity: The grain was poured into the wooden basket and when that was full, had been accurately measured one Sümmer cereals. How much was a Sümmer, but there was no standard. From region to region and even from village to village, the Sümmer baskets were of different sizes.

The differences were significant: between the Eifel and Westerwald one Sümmer could be here 17 liters in size, but there 33 liters. The Sümmermacher had to know exactly for whom he made such a measuring container and he had to adhere to the exact size. Otherwise, a farmer would have, for example,

too much tithe paid as tax to the landlord if would have fit into the Sümmer measure too much grain.

Bienen - vom Haustier zum Wirtschaftsfaktor


You can store your luggage in lockers by the entrance and reception desks.

Information about projects, guided tours and courses

All projects, guided tours and courses can be found here. You can also call at kulturinfo and get advice or book: Tel. 02234/9921555, info@kulturinfo-rheinland.de

Kids’ Carts

By the entrance and reception desks you can hire a kids’ cart (Bollerwagen) to pull behind you for a fee of 3 €. During the year the museum offers a series of events and activities especially for children. You can find details about them in the Annual Program.

Walking frames

The Friends of the Museum have purchased walking framesfor the museum, which can be borrowed at the entrance / reception desk.

Lost Property

Lost and found property is kept at the entrance/reception desks. Tel. 02443-9980140

Barrier-free Access

The Open Air Museum is situated on a hilltop and therefore includes gradients of up to 17 % in some places. The footpaths are largely made of cobblestones, as well as water-bound surfaces. Between the individual Groups of Buildings there are benches in the grounds, as well as picnic areas with tables. … more about barrier-free access

Dogs in the Museum

Naturally, your dog is allowed to come into the museum with you. But please keep the dog on a short leash (reel-leashes must be locked) while observing the usual legal regulations. Unfortu-nately, dogs are not allowed into the houses and exhibition halls.


You will encounter subjects for photographic and video recordings all over the grounds. Natural-ly, you are welcome to photograph or film them, but only for private purposes to remember your visit. The commercial use or publication of such images is not permitted. For further in-formation check out Photography in the Museum.