It was early March, that is, late-ish winter, temperatures around 0°C, slippery, grey and dull. But far away, there lay a promise of light. I should have guessed it was not the best time of the year to visit an open-air museum. Or a one whose location is so important to the museum itself. Well, we all make silly decisions sometimes, don’t we.
So I set off to the far end of Espoo, just off the only white IKEA in the world (I think) and visited Glims (I just made a great typo – Glums) Farmstead Museum, a lovely open-air farm museum located in the shade of the huge Jorvi hospital. The museum comprises of an array of buildings in their original locations, some of them as old as from the 18th century. Most of them are fitted as museum, a few are serving as a café/gallery/sheds – oh and there is a henhouse, mini-plant-bed and a small field, but obviously I did not get to enjoy any of those as they were covered in snow and ice (the chickens too, probably).
Glims farm also functioned as an inn between 1778 and 1822 and from 1891 to 1901; one of the buildings is indeed still fitted as a farm hostel room: very cosy yet humble, a bit crammed and indeed homey. You can smell the wood burning in the stove, warm sweat of fellow guests, rye bread with butter and possibly some home-made beer.
Those who follow my other blogs know about my scepticism toward Espoo. I think it is something like an extreme example of an imagined-community, yet there are very few values and other things in common Espoo’s inhabitants could actually share. It is too big. Too shattered. Too suburban. But this museum, located in juxtaposition to Espoo’s largest hospital, shows us the historical importance of the villages of Espoo. There is something Espoo can be proud of, people used to live in Espoo before Tapiola or artificial Espoo centrum came into being and we can learn how they lived their lives…
… and, interestingly enough, it was in Glims I found a leaflet about Espoo City Museum’s (permanent?) exhibition A thousand stories about Espoo. OK, fine, the exhibition has been on for 3 years almost and I never payed too much attention to it, but it does make sense to raise awareness and some kind of local pride or identity in locations built on a greenfield site. If not for the sake of current inhabitants or home owners, then for the sake of their children.
In the main building a really great exhibition was taking place: photographs of Glims by a young Finnish artist Otto-Ville Väätääinen. His photographs capture amazingly well the atmosphere of the place, and he does so by questioning the process of realising, experiencing, the tension between reality and the emotion and memory felt during the experience itself…
To sum it up: Glims did make me feel less ignorant about Espoo. More willing to accept that I even might, err, one day, move there. It got me further explode the other side of Espoo, the cosy one (not unlike in the village of Kauklahti), the one contrasting modern housing estates and Prismas.
Sadly I did not have time to visit KAMU (Espoo City Museum) on the same day. Instead I continued to Gallen Kallela Museum.
You know those buildings by some highly frequented road which just catch your eye and you tell yourself every single time you pass that building that one day you will explore the place and find out about its history and current purpose?
That’s how I first learned about Gallen Kallela Museum: the only part of the building visible from the road (Turunväylä) is the tower with fake battlement. I wondered why someone would build something halfway between a castle and a rustic dwelling – unless it was an artist, of course, famous for illustrating the national epic.
Now I finally visited the place.
I should have known, I should have made this trip in a few months, make a nice bike round around the Laajalahti bay. Enjoy the nature, the light, forget about the omnipresent car rustle from Turunväylä.
I should have known that 20 minutes is not enough time for the visit, but I was determined to take a look. Sadly, I did not learn as much about Gallen Kallela’s life and work as I would have imagined; there is currently a pretty large exhibition taking place at the museum, Silent Spaces, a travelling exhibition by Nordic artists (cudos especially to Marja Helander). I liked the exhibition – exploring interaction with the physical space where information is not transmitted verbally. I did not like it in the museum, maybe because it was too indented a space, maybe because of the home-like feeling, it is hard to tell…
I’ll simply have to be back soon. Or later.