The museum is divided into five parts:
A Lower Orava Market place – showing a little market town with buildings form the south- western part of the region
B Upper Orava Street – show-piece of a village with row houses and homesteads from the period of the Wallach colonization
C Goral hamlets showing scattered homesteads in a mountain environment
E Mill House with water technology facilities – the mill and the fulling mill
A) Lower Orava Market Place represents a rural small town with a central square which served as a market place. The buildings of clay plaster and whitewash were typical for Lower Orava – southern part of region. The plaster improved the insulation qualities of a house, having at the same time an aesthetic function – a plastered house looked more genteel and resembled buildings built from more solid materials. The houses in the market place represent the dwellings of various social groups – gentry, farmers, craftsmen and land-bound peasants. As in all settlements here too can be found farm and technological facilities.
1. Malatiná The Museum Offices. The origin of the village of Malatiná, established on a mountain path from Liptov to Orava, dates back to the 14th century. This structure, built in the second half of the 19thcentury, was one of the largest households in the village. Stables and barns are connected to the large house, and a spacious yard is enclosed by a high fence and a gate. At present it serves as the offices of the museum.
2. ZáskalieBelfry (1860) The Baroque belfry consists of two parts. In the past the village archive and a fire station were situated in its lower masonry part. In the upper wooden lath part is situated a bell from Kraľovany. The roof of the belfry is tent-shape and its structure follows the contours of an onion. T metallic rooster, as a symbol of protection from fire, is fixed to its top.
3. Vyšný Kubín The Gentry Manor of the Meško family (1752) Gentry Manor Houses were residence houses or country seats of the lower aristocracy. The log house consists of two independent housing units. The older back part was built in 1752, the more recent in the mid-19thcentury and furnished with original period furniture representing the higher social level of the gentry. As a reminder of the Latin school, a classroom was installed in the back part of the house.
4. Žaškov House of a Small Farmer (1790) A house with a typical three-part floor plan was common for farmers´ dwellings. The entry to the house was through a small entrance space leading to a pantry, the main room and the loft. The entrance space was separated by a partition wall from the “black” kitchen, used for cooking over an open hearth with a smoke canopy.
6. Veličná Craftsman’s House with Attic. Until 1683 Veličná was the capital of the county of Orava. In the 16th century in the craftsman environment of this little town was developed an architectural type of house with attic and a gallery above the back-room.
8. – 9. Granaries. These were the farm buildings for the storage of farm products and foodstuffs. As the stored foodstuffs meant subsistence for the family for the whole year, their protection from fires was very important
B) Upper Orava Street Most Orava villages originate from the 15th and the 16th century by Wallachian Law. The street is an illustration of the architectural design of many Orava villages
10. Trstená Reconstruction of Pottery Kiln. The pottery kiln from 1819 was built from bricks on the outside, and covered inside with clay. The four larger holes in the bottom of the kiln served for setting the fire, the smaller ones on the sides of the kiln for driving out the smoke and putting in thin wood chips.
11. Čimhová Homestead of a Mid-size Farmer (1870) The architecture of Podhalie (northern part of the High Tatras in Poland) also influenced the construction of houses in the north-eastern part of Orava. The log construction of these houses was built from huge fir trunks cut lengthwise. The cut and smoothly hewn sides of the trunks created the walls of a room. The crevices were filled in with moss.
12. Beňadovo House of a Small Farmer (1868) The house was built from unhewn logs. The ceilingless entrance space divides the house into a logged front room and a chamber. The front room with a large stone oven and hearth with smoke canopy was the only living room.
13. Podbiel Homestead of a Mid-size Farmer (1832) The last owner of this house several times travelled to America for work. After W.W.I he made a complete reconstruction of the house interior, applying the experience gained in America. Together with the living space under one roof there were also two stables and an adjoining barn for farm products, tools, and means of transport.
14. Zuberec Farmer’s House. This replica of a three-room house with hipped roof is representative of the buildings at the turn of the 19th century. The house furniture reveals the close connection of the village with the mountain environment.
15. Štefanovo Linen-maker´s Manor. A replica of the Palider family (dyers and linen sellers) manor from the year 1789 is characteristic of the beginnings of building the first manor houses from solid materials. The houses offered the families a comfortable living, but also served trade purposes, with the lofts used as storage spaces.
16. Dolná Lehota Wealthy Farmer´s Homestead. A replica of the homestead of the Dieška family, whose front part with gallery was built in 1869. The log structure is built on a raised stone footing which also constituted the walls of the cellar. Another separate living unit with entry space, kitchen and living room was later added on to the house. Large farm sheds built in a U shape belonged to the house. At present the building serves for exhibitions and other museum presentation purposes.
17. Vasiľovo Homestead of a Hereditary Reeve. The homestead is almost an identical replica of the homestead from 1839, which was built by the descendant of a Vasiľov hereditary reeve. The homestead consists of four-side yard with sheds, stables and a space for storing farm products, tools for field work and processing the harvest.
18. Hruštín Wealthy Farmer´s Homestead (1923) This enclosed homestead is the most recent construction in the museum. In the large four-side yard stands the shearing room, and behind it a sheep-fold under a shed. In the back yard there is a large barn and a brick stable for the horses and cattle. On the third side of the yard are the pigsties and a log chamber with a covered barn. The brick storage shed closing out the front yard was built in 1930.
19a. Lomná Store Room. A simple log construction is built from unhewn wood. The upper part of the log house was originally used for storing hay. In the lower part grain was stored. In the store room the tools for making shingles are stored.
19. Habovka Forge Hearth. The forge belonged to the Klimek family, who purchased it in 1912. The masonry fireplace at the back wall of the log construction was the most important equipment of the forge hearth. The air was blown into the fire by a leather bag, operated manually with the help of a chain. On the anvil located in front of the fireplace a smith forged the red-hot iron with the aid of various tools. In front of the forge under the roofed space horses and bulls were shoed.
20. Rabčice Reeve’s House (1828) This construction with garrets in the double-pitch roof is the largest-size house in the museum. The entrance space led to a spacious kitchen with a fireplace with a smoke canopy and a stove standing next to it. All the house work was done in this room and villagers coming to see the reeve used to meet here. The room where the reeve slept with his family was directly heated from the kitchen. Other rooms of this extensive house served the village community.
C) Goral Mountain Hamlets On the slopes of Beskydy in the north of the region are scattered the isolated homesteads built during the final colonization of Orava. With the growing numbers of population at the end of the 18thcentury, the need to extend farming land also increased. Farming on the more remote locations in mountain areas was begun. There the settlers started to build seasonal dwellings which later became the foundations of new settlements.
The houses with hipped roof consisted mostly of a small living room, a stable, a shed and a barn in which the sheep used to be kept overnight. They all had their fields around their homesteads, with a grassy garden in front of them. Due to the harsh climate they concentrated on sheep and cattle breeding more than growing crops.
21. Oravské VeseléLumberjack and Shepherd’s Homestead (1838) The homestead represents an example of low social Beskydy architecture and the simplest form of dwelling with a yard. It is typical of a certain phase of the settlement process in the border mountains. A dated archivolt portal leads to a tiny entrance space which also served as a pantry. It is loosely connected to a small logged black room with an oven and a hearth without a smoke removal. The hipped roof connects the living part of the house with the farm areas – a barn, which also served for keeping sheep, and a wooden pigsty.
22. Zuberec Chalet. In the mountain environment of Orava the traditional method of breeding sheep was in chalets. The farmers bred the sheep at home during the winter – in the season when everything was covered in snow –, and when the snow disappeared they were grazed on the mown meadows, in the fields and from May to the end of September on the cleared slopes of mountains, where the sheep farms – the chalets were built. On a sheep farm a cottage was built to house the shepherds. Inside, a fire was lit, over which meals were cooked and milk products processed.
23. Novoť Reeve’s House (1813) The house belonged to an old reeve’s family from Jurčák. Of the original log construction has been preserved only the left part built from lengthwise-cut trunks. The right side of the house disintegrated and was reconstructed according to the preserved foundations and the information gained from the old inhabitants. The room belonged among the largest in the village – the local women and girls used to meet here for spinning work, feather stripping and other domestic works. The dwelling was protected from the cold north wind by planking on the back wall of the house.
Belfry from Rabčice The structure of the belfry consists of a column with a bell fixed at the top, and covered with a conical shingle roof. This bell comes from the church in Habovka which 1813 disappeared during a flood.
25. Oravská Lesná Farmer’s Homestead (1862) Oravská Lesná, founded in 1713, is one of the youngest of the Orava villages. The back part of the homestead was built in 1862 , with the construction of the kitchen and room completed in the 20thcentury. For insulation reasons the log walls are lined with shingles. The same roof also covers the pig-sties.
D) Church In the Middle Ages churches were built on a hill above the village, with a graveyard spreading around it. The church and the graveyard were usually surrounded by stone walls with a masonry gate. In the past the walls served a protective function, as in the time of threat of war, people sought refuge in the church.
27. Zábrež Church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. The late-Gothic wooden church was probably built at the beginning of the 15th century as an affiliated church of the Roman-Catholic parish in Veličná.The original construction consisted of a nave with a small enclosed sanctuary and a sacristy. The tower with a pyramidal belfry was added to the church in the 17th century. The tribune over the entry to the nave dates from the same period.
The slab ceiling and the chorus gallery are decorated with a Renaissance painting with a plant motif. The wall-painting in the sanctuary comes from 1646.Orava gallery in Dolný Kubín.
Seasonal Constructions During the summer it was necessary to make enough hay for the domestic animals. This was hard work. The meadows were very often in remote and hard to access locations. Therefore people built hay lofts, sheds or other seasonal dwellings close to the meadows so that during the hay making season they did not have to return to the village every day. These simple log constructions served for storing hay, stabling for the cattle and for sleeping. Sometimes it was used as a place to cook simple meals.
29. Hay lofts from Oravská Jasenica
E) Water – Mill Area The right to build and use a water-mill, sawmill and fulling mill belonged among the privileges of the hereditary reeves. The water -mill was one of the first technological constructions built in villages. A water mill and a fulling mill driven by the water from the common mill pond can also be found in the museum water mill area.
29. Novoť Mill
The mill was built around 1890. The mill construction consists of living quarters with a living room, a chamber, and a milling room with attached lower milling room. Milling stones were installed in the milling room and in the lower milling room the gear for the milling unit and a circular saw were located in a shingle shed. The mill was in operation until 1935. Gabriel Rončák was its final owner.
30. Lomná The Funnel Mill (1820) This device for felting cloth is installed in a log house in which there is an oven for heating water with distribution pipes and a beater. The fulling mill was in operation until 1950s, while the cloth was used for making clothes and footwear.