Museums & Exhibits for Rural Life and Old Technologies

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Updated September 18, 2019


Living History Museums-Colonial and Revolutionary War Era

Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, VA, is a 173 acre living museum portraying life just prior and during the Revolutionary War period (about 1699 to 1780) with dozens of buildings from that era carefully restored on the grounds along with some newer buildings carefully reproduced as archeologists believe they would have looked. There are 20 trade sites staffed year round with skilled craftsmen and women and still a dozen more major exhibition buildings open for public viewing. Colonial Williamsburg offers a very large web site to help the visitor get acquainted with the museum and its goals, and the home page should be carefully explored with the mouse pointer since active graphics are not used and there is more on the home page than first meets the eye. The web site is located at: It is too difficult to reproduce the hours of operation here.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
P.O. Box 1776
Williamsburg, Virginia 23187-1776
(757) 220-7286

Living History Museums 18th-19th Century Farm and Village Museums

Living History Farms in Des Moines, Iowa. A 600 acre open air museum which tells the story of how early Iowans transformed the fertile prairies of the Midwest into the most productive farmlands in the world. On-site interpreters, seasonal activities and demonstrations, provide a close up view of life in that bygone era. Museum contains staffed exhibits including an 1850s pioneer farm with oxen power, an early 1900s farm using horse power, a late 19th century farming town with 14 trade/craft buildings and exhibits, and a cultural center. Sites are connected by walking trails and tractor (sometimes horse drawn cart) and staffed by authentically clothed interpreters. See their web site at:  for more information.

2600 NW 111th Street, Urbandale, IA 50322
Phone: 515/278-5286 (office) or 515/278-2400 (24-hr. special event info)

Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, MA. The largest living history museum in the Northeastern United States located on over 200 acres of rolling and wooded farmland, provides daily work activities and celebrations of a rural 1830's village in living history fashion. Old Sturbridge Village has a beautiful web site at . My favorite area of the museum surrounds the mill pond. Three shops are powered by their own water driven wheels including an old style 'up and down' sawmill, a carding mill, and a grist mill. The blacksmith shop is close by as well. Oxen are used to demonstrate farming from the era. There are more than 40 staffed exhibits including homes, craft shops and farm buildings. Be sure to check Old Sturbridge Village's web site for up to date visitor info and travel directions.

Old Sturbridge Village, 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, MA 01566. Tel.(508) 347-3362.

Korean Folk Village, Living History Museum near Suwon South Korea depicting rural life in 19th century Korea. Located on 243 acreas with 280 buildings and structures. Dozens of hand crafts demonstrated ranging from paper making and pottery to blacksmithing and colorful ceremonies. Located a short drive south of Seoul, South Korea.

Antique tractor and Railroad Museums links

Central Hawkeye Gas Engine & Tractor Association, Inc.

Old threshers' reunion at Mt. Pleasant Iowa

Museums- Rural Life

University of Reading Museum of English Rural Life, Reading, U.K. Website at . There are over 30 handmade English farm wagons in their collection. The museum was founded in 1951 at a time when many trades, and crafts, were changing to mechanization. It houses many tools and things related to farming, hand crafts, rural life, and industry and most items in the collection are from the time period between 1850 and 1950. Photos of some parts of their collection are displayed on the website. I found a few old photos of some blacksmith shops and forges on this website. Check out their panoramic photo views of the museum. One of interest is .

Find more links here at the Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums website. This association helps living history museums improve and train their staff and exhibits. These links may be of benefit to those trying to find more museums in their area or to learn more historical info about their chosen crafts. Their website is and contains more than just smithing related fields. Others areas include costume and setting up museums.