Göcseji Village Museum, the country’s first open-air ethnographical museum was opened in 1968, and was established around the backwater of Zala, the river crossing the town, and an old water mill. The collection was transported to the location from several Zala settlements, and in the museum a 19th century Göcsej settlement was reconstructed where visitors can get to know the everyday articles for personal use in the region.
The Göcseji Village Museum of Zalaegerszeg is a sort of essence of Göcsej, one of the country’s most archaic region, which existed in an almost intact isolation until the middle of the 20th century. The visitors of the village museum enter a dreamworld where time froze still sometime in the 19th century. The exhibition also demonstrates that people’s life in Göcsej was nothing like a fairy tale, they had to work hard to make a living.
The village of the village museum has never existed in its current form: its buildings and objects have been delivered from almost thirty settlements to the Ola quarter of Zalaegerszeg. Another reason to consider Göcseji Village Musemum a rarity is that it was built around an existing building, an 18th century watermill, called Hencz Mill. It presents a quondam world only a few minutes’ walk from downtown, where the citizens of the village used practically everything in their farming activities. The village museum is a loved and guarded treasure of Zalaegerszeg, the locals like to think of it as a picturesque walk-through garden. Although it is considered the island of serenity, its peacefulness is broken several times a year by loud music, clumps of footsteps, spinning skirts, the whooping of vendors, and the laughter of happy people. The city’s open-air ethnographical collection, the Göcseji Village Museum, houses several great events every year.