Don’t worry, my dear fans, the challenge is on! It has been lately limited to weekends only, but I have some interesting plans lined up for this week – despite the winter season and winter(ish) weather.
Where shall I begin? Well, a week ago I needed some inspiration. Using (Finnish) folk ornaments in graphic design can get a bit tricky, so I went straight to the source: Kansallismuseo, the National Museum. Using the magical Museokortti I spent some time making sketches (and taking phone pictures) of cross stitched scarves and headwear and furniture and alike. It was worth it.
What else can I say about the place? As much as one would expect from a National Museum, definitely worth a visit if you are interested in how Finns lived their lives throughout the times. But be warned, it does not get much exciting for many centuries, the entire history of a long period time (my intepretation: before the Swedes came) is based on combat axes and knives and water chestnut. (Sorry Finland, you know I love you.) Also, the museum has been through some visual identity lately, and I must say it is a bold and good one.
The same week I decided it’s time to look beyond the capital area and we set off on a trip towards Tuusula. Of course the time planning did not go right so we did not get to see all the museums I wished for, but to be totally fair, how many museums can one visit per day (realistically and without becoming mad, confused and eventually not remembering anything)?
For those who believe Tuusula and Järvenpää are nothing more than commuter towns full of horrendous 1980s buildings, I’m afraid I have to dissappoint you (partly at least, I won’t change my opinion on small-town Finnish architecture, but who would come to Järvenpää to stare at houses and shopping malls anyways?). Now, the Tuusulan järvi/Lake Tuusula served as artists’ colony since the beginning of 20th century – if you know any Finnish artists, chances are that he or she was somehow connected to this place, or at least had some good acquaintances here. What I can personally recommend is a bike trip around the lake IN SUMMER, enjoying at least some of the unique artist homes/museums on the way, in particular my personal gem Villa Kokkonen (NOT Kekkonen) designed by Aalto. Oh yes.
Back to the grey February Sunday afternoon: out first destination was Halosenniemi, home of Pekka Halonen (duh). It was lovely, warm and the entire house smelled of wood, tar and holidays. The paintings were quality. The staff were friendly. The place will surely get another vibe in a few months when one can actually walk around the minipeninsula, pick blueberries and grab a (cup of dangerous Finnish) coffee.
Next stop was Lottamuseo, and it was all about Lotta movement and it was probably run by some retired Lottas. Indeed, it felt like a museum run by girl scouts, including the well equipped café and museum shop (selling for example Lotta-made skin products, Lotta badges with swastikas, etc.). Now, what are Lottas you might wonder. I will answer as a half-ignorant tourist (and a visitor of the museum): Lottas were women and girls taking up their share of work during WW2, serving as nurses, telephone operators, cooks, farm workers, cake bakers, you name it. The political anti-Russian ethos was very sound, and that’s why Lottas’ activities were banned shortly after the end of the war. The museum is still standing and Lottas (those still living as well as the whole movement in general) are still admired for their bravery and great contribution to the… war?
The museum is located in a lovely house, and it is a pretty interesting place – fcourse, it is run by women;) I learnt a great deal about Finnish history – and about life of a Finnish woman in general and its transformation throughout the time. So that I know what I am getting into. Hahah. Hah.
It was nearly closing time – 16 o’clock – when we arrived at Erkkola, old home to poet by the name of J.H.Erkko. Erkkola also = Martta Wendel = those colourful illustrations in Finnish children’s books (or, those postcards and calendars you would buy for your gran or for your godchild) = a great (and quick as the place is by no means big) stop.
If you are wise and visit the museum in summer (applies to the entire country), I would spend a euro or two (this is not a euphemism) and visit the nearby death-cabin of Aleksis Kivi (does this even work in English?). The cottage is miniature (and it housed like 7 people or something, of which one was a on death bed: nice). The “attraction” (can’t call this a museum) is owned by the Student Union at University of Helsinki. I wonder what kind of parties they throw in here.
See you soon – sooner than last time for sure!