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Herisau, capital of the half-canton Appenzell Ausserrhoden, and connected to Appenzell village by train, is a workaday town with much less character than its neighbour, but is nonetheless handy as a departure point for an hourly bus to St Gallen via the backcountry village of Stein; you’ll often see the village’s name suffixed “AR” (the cantonal abbreviation for Ausserrhoden) to distinguish it from Stein-am-Rhein and other Steins. Stein’s main draw is the engaging Appenzeller Volkskunde Museum (Folklore Museum; April–Oct Mon 1.30–5pm, Tues–Sat 10am–noon & 1.30–5pm, Sun 10am–6pm; Nov–March Sun 10am–5pm; Fr.7). Make sure you pick up the English notes from the desk, and you could also ask about the displays of weaving or traditional musical instruments which take place regularly in the museum. The ground floor has an introduction to Appenzell and its people, along with displays devoted to cowbells, ornamental beltmaking, carpentry and other folk crafts. Upstairs is a reconstructed traditional wooden bedroom, complete with painted furniture, as well as displays of embroidery, weaving and jewellery. The best part of the museum, though, is on the top floor, which is devoted to Appenzell’s folk art, made by nineteenth-century farmers who decorated furniture, milk pails and other implements with ornate designs and who took to painting scenes from daily life on canvas and wood. Johannes Müller is the most prolific of these uncelebrated artists; he lived all his 91 years in Stein as a clockmaker and artist, and his wonderfully simple, almost childlike landscapes are characterized by vibrantly green hills crisscrossed by long lines of cattle led by traditionally dressed herders.
Next door is the Appenzeller Schaukäserei (Show Dairy; March–Oct Mon–Fri 9am–7pm, Sat & Sun 8am–7pm; Nov–Feb daily 9am–6pm; free), where you can watch the various processes of cheesemaking from a gallery above the huge vats and churns – try to time your visit to coincide with the main cheesemaking procedures (daily 9–11am).
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