Jamtli – an exciting journey through the history of Jämtland 

During our visit to Östersund earlier this week I took my daughter to Jamtli, a place close to my heart. A place my mother often took me and my little sister, when we were kids. What is Jamtli? It’s a whole world of wonder! Jamtli covers a big area in the outskirts of the city of Östersund (Sweden.) There is an indoor museum with some permanent exhibitions about Vikings, The Sámi people – Sweden’s indigenous people, and how it was to live in Sweden 100+ years ago. The indoor museum also have temporary exhibitions, this time we viewed one thought provoking exhibition about food, one exhibition about democracy, and an art exhibition of famous Swedish painters. Jamtli offers an exciting journey through the history of Jämtland (and Härjedalen.)

There is also a large acres of an open-air museum of historic farms and houses. They have local breeds of farm animals; cows, sheep, goats, pigs, hen, horses etc. We took a guided tour of the open-air museum, with a Christmas theme. We learned about how it was to celebrate Christmas in Sweden in the 1850-1950, how people prepared for Christmas and celebrated Christmas. The tour included a tour inside time typical farm houses decorated for Christmas. It was most interesting to see. 

A farm house from the 1850’s
A regular well-to-do farm usually had several outbuildings, such as a hay barn, a house for the workers and elderly, a root cellar, and a barn.
Mountain cows at Jamtli.
Klövsjö sheep at Jamtli.
Most of the houses at Jamtli are original farm houses, the church is a new built, made the way they traditionally looked in the 1800’s. We were allowed to enter the church and it was small, but very beautiful on the inside. There was no heating, and the outside temperatures were around 5F..the temperature indoors were about the same.

Jamtli often showcase local craftsmen’s handicraft and local artists. They have a wonderful Christmas market, that is a highlight of the year for many kids. Growing up I learned how to process wool by hand at Jamtli. They often have practical activities like that for children, especially in the summer time, including animal husbandry. We are planning another visit this coming summer. One of the things my daughter appreciated the most was going through the interactive part of the museum, where she could try many things the way they used to be done a hundred years ago. 

A beautiful wooden horse standing about 14hh, showing the main way of transportation back in the days.
The permanent exhibition at Jamtli showcase many of the animals that lives in the surrounding forests, including the lynx.
…and the brown bear.

My daughter was very fascinated about the Sami’s wooden tents “lappkåtor”, and the area of the museum where you can learn about how they live/lived. The Sami are one of the world’s indigenous people, and one of Sweden’s official national minorities. There are about 20 000 Sami people living in Sweden at the moment, they own about 260 000 reindeer. They have a similar dispute over grazing rights that ranchers all over the world experience. Sami people are traditionally nomadic, but many modern day Sami have a permanent residence somewhere, and a cabin in the mountains for the grazing season. There are 51 Sami villages in Sweden, where the Sami have special rights to the land, fishing, hunting, building facilities they need for reindeer husbandry etc. Just like the Natives in the US, the Sami culture have a great history of storytelling. Their craftsmanship is well known, I personally enjoy looking at their knives and other tools when opportunity arises. I sometimes purchase smoked reindeer meat from a special store they have here in Falun (most Sami live further north from where I live.) I would love to take my daughter to a real Sami village, and not just a site at the museum, even if that is very interesting, and can spark a greater interest in their traditions. 

Inside the Sami house. (The ones that I’ve been inside in real Sami villages have been larger, at least that is how I remember them.)
A beautiful reindeer. The Sami use every part of the reindeer.

I hope you enjoyed this little taste of Jamtli. It’s a place you never get tired of. The permanent exhibitions are beautiful, and the temporary exhibitions are always of very high quality. The activities changes throughout the seasons, which makes visiting interesting as well. The gift shop have beautiful handicrafts for sale, and a most interesting section of hard to find books.

We will leave you with this photo from Jamtli’s cafe. See you soon!