Crafts and Folk Arts in the Programme of the Open-Air Museum

Crafts and Folk Arts in the Programme of the Open-Air Museum

Katarína Očková

The Museum of the Slovak Village is an open-air museum of the Slovak National Museum in Martin. Since 1991, its programmes have been presenting traditional customs and folklore. So far the Museum has organized a number of specialised events focusing on traditional arts and crafts. However, those who still preserve this traditional cultural heritage are mostly from the oldest generation and in many cases they have no successors who would want to carry on their art or craft at the professional level. There is a real need to establish a local methodical and expert centre for traditional arts and crafts that would bring together and train artisans and manufacturers – volunteers that would then present their crafts not just during events organised by the Museum, but also revitalise this cultural heritage in the region and beyond.

The absence of Slovak or regional products and artisans is often replaced by suppliers from abroad. The organisers of Museum events also have to deal with the efforts of distributors and sellers of commercial merchandise from Poland and Hungary.

Lately, there has been an increasing demand for a database of artisans to present their work not only in local events but also in shopping centres or other commercial institutions. In the past fifteen years, “traditional markets“ have become a popular cultural commodity. In the past, each village had its own small trade. Markets and fairs were a component of the local economic as well as social and cultural exchange. They had their own rules, atmosphere, special features and accompanying events. The Museum strives to present a truthful and well-crafted performance of this everyday history to its contemporary visitors.