Anders Sandvig, the founder of Maihaugen, came to Lillehammer as a young dentist in 1885. He had contracted a serious lung disease and thought he only had a few months left to live. The climate in the town was considered to be good for people with lung disease and he gradually recovered completely. He died in 1950 at the age of 88.
As a dentist, Sandvig was responsible for all of Gudbrandsdalen. On his travels, he began to collect objects from the old farming culture that was in the process of disappearing. Nordiska Museet in Stockholm was buying old objects in Gudbrandsdalen at this time. Sandvig thought it was important for the old objects not to disappear from Norway.
He not only collected precious, special objects. Everyday objects were just as interesting. He also bought old buildings and reerected them in his own garden in the centre of Lillehammer. This gave him the space to exhibit the objects. The collection was moved to Maihaugen in 1904.
Today the museum has nearly 200 historical buildings.