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The popular image of the museum, a neoclassical temple acting as national treasure chest or tomb for the relics of past civilizations, visited by families on rainy afternoons, was well established by the end of the nineteenth century in much of Europe and North America. However the origins of the museum, as idea and institution, remain obscure, although its later development in European society has been well described (Impey and Macgregor 1985). Since their invention over 100 years ago in Sweden, open air or ‘living history’ museums, which usually feature costumed artisans at work in period homes or studios, have attracted large numbers of visitors worldwide.