Belarusian State Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Lifestyle is an open-air museum or in other words a skansen museum. This term presupposes collecting relics of the past that are of historical and cultural value and exhibiting them out-of-doors in natural surroundings. Regional and local peculiarities gathered together in one place are demonstrating traditional folk culture of our country. Belarusian skansen has an ethnographic profile and is an object of republican importance. Landscape is a vital element in creating an exposition zone in the open-air museum.
Belarusian skansen is rather young in comparison with other museums of such kind. The idea of creating an open-air museum of folk architecture and rural lifestyle in our country first arose in 1908. It came up to a well-known Belarusian artist Ferdynand Ruszczyc but World War I and World War II made it impossible to get the idea off the ground.
The period of 1950-60s in Belarus was the period of intensive development, time of creating agricultural sectors, improving welfare of rural areas, determining economically unviable villages. That is why a real threat of losing folk wooden architecture emerged.
Since 1961 several articles on the necessity to preserve relics of wooden folk architecture and to create an open-air museum appeared in the national press.
On 9 December 1976 Belarusian government adopted a resolution № 367 “On founding the Belarusian State Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Lifestyle”. Then the Ministry of Culture issued an order to organize a Working Group responsible for creating the museum complex. It consisted of architects, historians and ethnographers. From that moment a large-scale scientific and expeditionary research work has started in regions all over the country. The aim of this research was to make a careful study and to find relicts of wooden folk architecture, household and handicraft items that are of museum value. Found artifacts were fixated and then transported to the museum.
Initially the museum complex was supposed to contain 250 exhibits and 50 000 museum items, industrial & economic area, objects of engineer support, museum’s road network and elements of rural beautification.
During 1987-1994 three exposition zones were opened to public, namely “Central Belarus” and partially formed “Padniapro?je” and “Paazierje” (Lakeland). The name “Padniapro?je” derives from the name of the river “Dniapro” (Belarusian spelling) or the Dnieper (Russian spelling). Nowadays the museum collection, displayed on the exposition zones, contains 40 exhibits, some of which are under restoration.