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From museum garden to kitchen in the museum "Den Gamle By"

By Astrid Steffensen, Gardener in Den Gamle By Museum and Master of Arts (MA)

In our museum: Den Gamle By (which means "the Old Town") we decided to focus on how the gardeners can make the produce from our historic gardens more accessible to our visitors, through collaboration with both our modern restaurant "Gæstgivergården", the historical kitchens, exhibitions, and products available from the museum gift shop.

Alle fotos: Astrid Steffensen

Co-worker Workshop

Den Gamle By is a big museum, so in order to strengthen the collaboration between gardens and kitchens we arranged a co-worker workshop, as the people involved have neither time nor opportunity to meet and discuss these matters otherwise. Gardeners, chefs, curators, reenactors, event managers were represented and knowledge, hopes, and ideas were shared along with a variety of snacks based on historical peas.

The workshop resulted in a strategy for future collaboration and an increased awareness of the gardens' and kitchens' huge potential for addressing discussions on diversity, sustainability, climate, food systems etc.

Gæstgivergården - a restaurant at the museum

It is our ambition to deliver as much as possible from the museum gardens to the kitchens. However, due to the limited capacity of the kitchen gardens it can only be a supplement to deliveries from commercial growers. Therefore, we have begun to request older varieties and enter into collaborations with growers who produce heirloom crops or varieties very similar to historical ones. 

 A couple of times a year there are special dinner-events with limited seating and we are working on creating menus where most of the vegetables have been grown in the museum gardens.

Historical kitchens

Strengthening the knowledge about heirloom vegetables grown in the museum gardens among the staff reenacting everyday activities in the historical kitchens at the museum is one of our focus-points.  Gardeners, curators and reenactors are collaborating on adapting the recipes already used in the historical kitchens to both the seasons and the kitchen gardens. It is our ambition to teach the reenactors what to harvest when, and how to prepare a few typical historical dishes from our own produce for our visitors to taste.

Exhibitions: 'Mad – mere end et måltid'

Along with NordGen our museum gardeners have contributed to this exhibition with knowledge on growing and saving seeds from old varieties of peas. It is a Swedish/Norwegian/Danish collaboration. The exhibition opened in Sweden April 2022; from there it will be moved to Norway and eventually it will end up at Den Gamle By in the summer of 2023.

In relation to this exhibition, there will be various activities such as 'pea-workshops', pea based dishes will be cooked in the historical kitchens, and a modern take on old varieties of peas will be available at Gæstgivergården.

Museum gift shop

We are working on an aquavit distilled from peas and mangel-wurzel based on an old Danish recipe and an advent calendar with four types of heirloom legume seeds will be available for Christmas 2022. It includes recipes, cultural history and instructions for growing and saving seeds.

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