The Thread of Life

The Thread of Life – exhibit tells of the journey of a human life, the everyday, and the festivities, in Southwest Finland of the 1800s. The exhibit focuses on such landmarks of life as marriage and starting a family. The exhibit also shows how the Lutheran church’s lessons on a virtuous life walked hand-in-hand with folklore about banishing evil and misfortune and keeping it at bay.

The exhibit walks you through childhood, into youth, to courting and family life to secure one’s twilight years, and finally to letting go of them.

The historic house museum

The traditions of Mauno and Ester Wanhalinna are upheld by the historic house museum of the Vanhalinna manor house. It’s greatest treasures are the furniture originally from the University of Turku’s original Phoenix building. In addition to them, presented in the exhibit are mainly post-Winter War, post-Continuation War and post-Lapland War furniture and items.

The exhibit is focused on the downstairs rooms of the manor house, where the parlor, dining room, the maiden’s chamber, the Kultaranta-room, the Householder’s office, and the kitchen. Every room tells its own part of the Vanhalinna estate’s and the manor house’s history, and the story of its owners.

The Era of Phoenix – Life in the University of Turku 1922-1959

The Era of Phoenix exhibit tells of the first decades of the University of Turku from the viewpoint of the building itself. In the 1920s the Turku Finnish University Society bought the Phoenix house, located on the edge of the city’s market square “Kauppatori”, to be used as the main building of the newly found university. The building had originally been built to be used as a hotel, which never prospered in a city as small as Turku then was.

The University of Turku stayed in Phoenix for over thirty years (1922-1959) and when the new campus on the Vesilinnanmäki hill was completed the old main building’s culturohistorically valuable furnishings were housed in Vanhalinna’s museum, which the university also had recently been gifted. The old master of the Vanhalinna manor, and the museum’s previous intendant, Mauno Wanhalinna, bought a large amount of Phoenix’s furniture and other property from an auction held some time after.

In Vanhalinna’s storehouse you will find furniture originally custom made for the University of Turku’s old main building, furnishing gifted later on, and items from Phoenix’s days as a hotel. The included photographs give further insight to the lives of students, lecturers, and professors in the building that was called “the crown of Kauppatori” which was, and still is, the main central market square of Turku.

The exhibit can be viewed in Vanhalinna until the end of August 2021

Picture: The University of Turku archives

The fates of Finnish army officers as told by military uniforms of 1922-1945

The exhibit built into the Vanhalinna museum’s Arma Aboa room tells, through military uniforms and items, the journeys some officers went through in the Winter War, Continuation War, and Lapland War (1939–1945).

The development of Finnish military uniforms began immediately after Finland gained independence from more decorative m/22 parade uniforms to more practical and field appropriate uniforms with their m/36 lighter summer versions.

Various medals, associated documentation, and diplomas, along with photographs shed light to the lives of officers on their military careers during Finland’s wars in 1918 and 1939–1945.

The exhibit can be viewed until the end of 2021.

Picture: A Finnish army colonel in an m/22 parade uniform. Private collection

esine – olento – asia

Artists Eero Merimaa, Susana Nevado, and Sari Torvinen have created an art exhibition called “esine – olento – asia” (eng. object – being – thing)  into the archeology room of the Vanhalinna museum. The artworks have been inspired by the museum’s archeological collection and the long history of the area. Some of the oldest agricultural archeological discoveries have been made on the Vanhalinna estate. The cultural change brought on by agriculture is also visible in the exhibit. The display cases of the museum’s archeology room frame the works of these three artists into a site-specific ensemble.

The Vanhalinna museum has traditionally displayed artefacts from the prehistoric days of the Aura river valley, and artefacts related the agrarian culture of Southwest Finland. Now these collections are presented in dialogue with contemporary art, as some of the museum pieces have been brought to the same space with works of art that comment on their nature in different ways. With the use of exciting and even surprising comparisons these old artefacts are shown in a completely new light.

The exhibition can be viewed from 12.6.–8.8.2021.