Photo: Maihaugen

The history of Maihaugen

The origins of Maihaugen can be traced back to 1887. 

Friluftsmuseet Maihaugens grunnlegger

Anders Sandvig, the founder of Maihaugen Xylograph by Hans Christian Olsen. Photo: Audbjørn Rønning/Maihaugen. 

Anders Sandvig was a dentist and arrived in Lillehammer in 1885. He started collecting artefacts two years later, because of childhood memories and feelings,as well as a concern that the local cultural heritage would be taken away from the district, especially to the Nordiska Museum in Stockholm.  

His first purchase was an altarpiece from Lillehammer church, and he also bought a carved wooden beer mug with apostle figures. He travelled through Gudbrandsdalen practising dentistry, and used his free time to buy old artefacts. He exhibited these in the dentist waiting-room before buying his own house. He also collected old furniture in order to furnish his home. The purchases became more planned as time went on and he purchased the first building in 1894, which later became the foundation of the Open Air Museum at Maihaugen. He was a systematic collector of different types of buildings, and he collected the fittings and furniture for these.  

He sold the collection to Selskapet til Lillehammer Bys Vel in 1901and the collection became a public museum with government support from this time onwards. Sandvig continued as the manager of the museum until 1946. The aim was to display a collection of homes, and to have a variety of homes, to allow the museum to display a complete village society with homes and different society functions.  

Anders Sandvig was foremost a collector of special artefacts, which were interesting due to their appearance or a had special story attached. As time progressed, he developed an interest in the artefacts of daily life. He specialised in collecting old tools and items related to handicrafts. He collected artefacts from Gudbrandsdalen, but when it came to handicraft he collected items from the whole of Norway.  

He used to buy items directly from the owner at the start, but later he would make purchases from wholesale or antique dealers. Trond Eklestuen, a man from Vågå who purchased old artefacts and sold on to museums in Kristiania and to private collectors, was a special collaborator of his. Sandvig also collaborated with several local contacts in various villages.

Sandvig was an amateur, but later received great recognition for his collection activity and the knowledge he gained as time went on. He was awarded the The Royal Norwegian Order of Saint Olav and the Borgerdåd (citizen achievement) medal in gold, which is the highest Norwegian award.