Why is this place not better well known? This was one of the best places I have ever visited in my life!!!! This indoor/outdoor museum was put together from actual houses, schools, churches, windmills, smokehouses and literally a hundred or more other buildings from the former Zuider Zee area.
Before anything else, know that you should plan on spending at least one entire day here - there is that much to see. You get here by boat - and then spend the next hours walking up and down paths, into actual houses with the authentic furniture, into real shops, drug stores where old time remedies are still sold, smokehouses where fish is still being smoked . . people wearing the authentic clothing from the area. This open air part of the museum also has lots of craftsmen and women busy with their craft, and the workmen will demonstrate the old fashioned crafts such as rope-making, sail-making and repairing, and bronze-casting. The indoor museum, which in and of itself would take at least three hours, displays Dutch traditions and history. There is a gorgeous clothing exhibition here as well, with the various clothing that people wore from this area. If you have children, they can learn to make clog boats, dress up in old Dutch "costumes", walk on stilts, play with old fashioned games, go on treasure hunts, in other words, a full day of fun mixed with history and learning.
There are public events that happen all year long, from music festivals, to kids museums, to theater, to maritime weekends, Saint Nicholas, and a winter fair.
The outdoor museum is broken up into different area - at the Haven (or Harbor) you will find the Fish museum for children and sailing on a fisherman's boat. Then comes the Kerkbuurt (the church district) where you would find the houses of the sail maker, sweet shop, chapel, smithy, school, forge lab. Remember, that all of these buildings are authentic and have been moved here to avoid being torn down or destroyed.
The Stadsgracht (urban canal) area is next, and here you will find a beautiful pharmacy along with a small museum of the "pharmacy heads", a bakery, cheese warehouse, upper class homes, old fashioned steam laundry and more.
In the Polder, you would find the fish curing area. Here, you will find that fish is being cured and smoked just as it has been for hundreds of years. You can choose your fish, which is smoking in the smokery in front of you, buy it and sit down and eat it there. Heel lekker!! Mmmmm.
Next is the Visserdorp, or the fishing village. You will be in the Village of Urk around 1905, and there you will find women in authentic clothing sewing outside, rope making, brush making, households from the 1930's and earlier. Here too are the bedsitters' which are the old fashioned beds that you would climb up into and close the doors. My husband, who is Dutch, loved seeing this as he slept in one of these beds at his grandmothers house here in Holland when he was a little boy.
There is also a nature area where you will see hairy brown cows. There is a very nice inexpensive restaurant here, with comfy chairs and tables and three fireplaces.
Seriously, this is not to be missed. Come early and plan to spend the day, at least. You will want to come again and again because there is just too much to enjoy in one day.