The Helsinki City Museum has recently opened its newest branch in the Tori quarters, the historical center of Helsinki. The museum provides an all-around experience of the everyday life and past of the city and its people. The renovation of the museum was completed this year, and the doors were opened again on the 13th of May 2016. The museum complex is made up of five old buildings and a modern extension between them.
– We wanted to create an overall experience which starts on the street already, continues into the courtyards and penetrates all rooms, says Helsinki City Museum Director Tiina Merisalo. Access is always free of charge, so we have designed the entire museum - the interior included - as a low-threshold facility. In addition to visiting exhibitions, you can also pop in to do some shopping, to unwind a bit or to work, for example. The museum also has three beautiful courtyards. The Falkman Courtyard, for example, has only been open to the public in special situations in the past.
Being the only museum in the world that focuses on Helsinki, the interior and its exhibitions portray that focus unlike any other museum we’ve ever seen and continuously present a touch of the city. Different periods are playfully combined to create the interior of the museum and its lobbies. Furniture from the Art Nouveau era to the 90’s is creatively placed in the entrance.
Designed by Kakadu Oy, a Helsinki-based interior architecture firm, the interior reflects memories of the city’s everyday life. The focus was to create an experience that “..starts from the streets, continues to the courtyards and extends through all premises” says reform rector Ulla Teräs from Helsinki City Museum. The five buildings of the museum come from different periods of time and have now gained a new building as well, however the interior represents different decades just as much as the museums architecture.
– This has been a fantastically interesting assignment. There are a wealth of premises in the complex, which consists of five buildings, all with a fascinating past, so we have had a lot to get ideas form, says Milka Tulinen from Kakadu.
Old doors have been used to create shelves and a sales desk in the museum shop and a moving timeline built on the lobby wall gives visitors a glimpse into major moments of Helsinki’s history.
The architecture of the museum focuses on the history and layers of different times just as much. The renovation was assigned to Helsinki-based Arkkitehdit Davidsson Tarkela, who successfully merged the old and new sections of the museum.
The buildings that still stand in the museum dates back from the 1750’s to the 1920’s. The new building’s facade is covered with prepatinated coupe which will eventually darken and with time turn green. The creative details around the museum have given the space its WOW-factor, with the mixing of eras, many heart-warming design elements were created throughout the buildings.
Many details from the past have been preserved when designing the new Helsinki City Museum, such as an archway clad with bricks from the 1960’s or a banister from the 1920’s.
Anonymously donated items and their stories make up the Museum of Broken Relationships; examples including jars with empty medicine blisters, high heeled shoes and more tell the tales of broken hearts, of love and loss. I am sure all of us could send an item or two ourselves to complete this unique collection! You can imagine that this Museum provides a large cocktail of emotions when walking through, from humor to sorrow, emotions we can all relate to so very easily. Throughout February-March of 2016 stories and break-up items were collected in Helsinki, and lots of them are on display in the exhibition. Who knew that letting go could be so creative?!
The Museum of Broken Relationships has been brought to the new Helsinki City Museum however its permanent exhibition is at home in Zagreb, Croatia. The museum was created after the broken relationship of Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubiši, two Croatian artists.
Helsinki Bites opened in May 2016 within the new museum, diving deep into the memories of the Helsinki’s history. “I remember that, that’s just what we used to have!” many visitors have exclaimed as they experience the past of the city with all their senses. You can turn the knobs on the radio and actually listen to old radio shows of those times.
A miniature model of Helsinki of 1878 is also showcased in this part of the museum, now illustrating the changing city. In the 1920’ a the model was ordered by the City Museum and until the 1980’s was exhibited in the Hakasalmi Villa. Although the model shows largely unconstructed Art Nouveau houses of that time, the buildings of the new Helsinki City Museum, at the corner of the Senate Square, are almost as they are now.
The Children’s Town provides play and activities for the little ones (and we are sure the bigger ones will enjoy it just as much) to illustrate the past of Helsinki. Although it was temporarily closed for renovation, it is now open again with the new Helsinki City Museum and continues to be a family favorite. We can’t wait to send out Museeum KIDS there to study everyday items from the 1970’s.
Get whisked away into the old streets and lives of people in Helsinki a century ago! You might ask how? With the Time Machine, of course! New amazing technologies allow the photographs of famous photographer Signe Brander transport us back to the authentic Helsinki of those times. She captured new methods of house-building in the making when she recorded the wood-built Helsinki, everyday lives of the people in their homes as well as publicly. Who would have thought you could ever experience the past so closely?
Needless to say that this museum keeps reaching higher and higher to create this unique and brilliant experience for its visitors. The Time Machine project partnered up with a software company called Future to help make their creative ideas become reality. And they have! Sound, animation, 3D technologies and projections are use within the Time Machine to make “time traveling” available throughout the museum, connecting people with their past and memories.
The residents of Helsinki have played a huge role in creating the new museum. Through questionnaires, discussions and interviews the city’s people have contributed to the Time Machines design.
The museum shop provides many nostalgic souvenirs to take home, including the incredible collection of postcards, Helsinki-themed posters and other unique gifts. Should you have troubles deciding what to buy and take back home with you, you can do so over a coffee or glass of wine at the café and wine bar El Fant which turns into a wine bar and venue for 5 course dinners in the evening!