Helsingin kaupunki, kulttuurin ja vapaa-ajan toimiala

Helsinki City Museum documents everyday life under lockdown

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The coronavirus crisis that assailed the world in the spring of 2020 will be remembered for disrupting our daily routines in many ways. The Helsinki City Museum continues its mission to document the everyday life of Helsinki and its residents, even during this exceptional time. In their analysis of this historic turning point, museum staff will concentrate on Helsinki’s outreach to self-isolating seniors and changes to the daily work of the City of Helsinki’s over 40,000 employees.

The Central Railway Station in Helsinki during the coronavirus pandemic, April 2020. Photo credit: Yehia Eweis / Helsinki City Museum
The Central Railway Station in Helsinki during the coronavirus pandemic, April 2020. Photo credit: Yehia Eweis / Helsinki City Museum

The Helsinki City Museum has been saving snippets of everyday life in Helsinki for over one hundred years, and its collection already encompasses over one million photographs and 450,000 artefacts. This spring, the museum will add to its records the results of an online survey of City of Helsinki employees, diaries kept by Helsinki Helpline workers, and photos of coronavirus treatment hubs. The Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra’s rehearsals for their first-ever livestreamed May Day performance are also being captured for posterity.

The Helsinki City Museum got its start as a project focused on contemporary documentation. A groundbreaking project in 1906 started by the museum’s predecessor, the Helsinki Antiquities Board, hired photographer Signe Brander to take pictures of the cityscape and daily life. Brander’s hundreds of photos from the early twentieth century have since become the crown jewels of the museum collections. The history in photos project continued through the coming decades, extending to for instance photographic records of post-war building projects as well as buildings scheduled for demolition.

Under the leadership of museum director Jarno Peltonen in 1970s, the museum began collaborating with the University of Helsinki’s Ethnography Department. Together, they began an ambitious series of interviews and recordings of urban life in the Helsinki districts of Töölö and Kallio. Collections expanded to era artefacts like clothing and sandbox toys. This type of work continued through the 1980s and 1990s, for example, in documentations of recession breadlines and the acquisition of a complete flea market table of second-hand goods.

Starting in the 2000s, the Helsinki City Museum began to focus on the working life of Helsinki residents. New contributions included recordings of a typical workday in a fast food restaurant and a playgroup session for mothers and their infant children.

Documenting coronavirus-era changes

This spring, the museum will focus its documentation of the prevailing coronavirus crisis on the Helsinki Helpline campaign for self-isolating seniors, a charity spearheaded by the City of Helsinki and Helsinki parishes. It will document the campaign’s outreach work, and gather material from the perspective of elderly who are receiving help and the municipal workers who have been transferred to assist with the vital work.

The Helsinki City Museum will also capture this year’s upcoming “Vappu at Home” celebrations by collecting Instagram photos, marking another first in how the museum records everyday history. After the May Day holiday, the museum will contact a sample of people who have used the hashtags #etävappu, #vappenhemma, #vappuathome and #helsinki when sharing photos on the app, to ask if they will allow for their photos to be added to the museum’s collections.

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Contacts

Acting Head of Research Elina Kallio, tel. 09 310 71555, elina.kallio@hel.fi (Artefacts Collection)

Chief curator Tuomas Myrén, tel. 09 310 36692, tuomas.myren@hel.fi (Photograph Collection)

Images

The Central Railway Station in Helsinki during the coronavirus pandemic, April 2020. Photo credit: Yehia Eweis / Helsinki City Museum
The Central Railway Station in Helsinki during the coronavirus pandemic, April 2020. Photo credit: Yehia Eweis / Helsinki City Museum
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Helsinki’s Narinkkatori square during the coronavirus pandemic, April 2020. Photo credit: Yehia Eweis / Helsinki City Museum
Helsinki’s Narinkkatori square during the coronavirus pandemic, April 2020. Photo credit: Yehia Eweis / Helsinki City Museum
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The Helsinki Antiquities Board on the Pitkäsilta Bridge, 1907. Photo credit: Reinhold Hausen / Helsinki City Museum
The Helsinki Antiquities Board on the Pitkäsilta Bridge, 1907. Photo credit: Reinhold Hausen / Helsinki City Museum
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Pedestrians at the intersection of Hämeentie and Vilhovuorenkatu, 1977. Photo credit: Nina Hackman / Helsinki City Museum
Pedestrians at the intersection of Hämeentie and Vilhovuorenkatu, 1977. Photo credit: Nina Hackman / Helsinki City Museum
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About Helsingin kaupunki, kulttuurin ja vapaa-ajan toimiala

Helsingin kaupunki, kulttuurin ja vapaa-ajan toimiala
Helsingin kaupunki, kulttuurin ja vapaa-ajan toimiala



https://www.hel.fi/kulttuurin-ja-vapaa-ajan-toimiala/fi/

The Helsinki City Museum is the world’s only museum focusing on Helsinki. Personal experiences and everyday life of people in Helsinki are highlighted and reflected in the museum’s items and photographs. A Kiss-kiss candy wrapper, a squeaky steel spring bed and a photo of a suburb home yard are precious treasures in the museum.

The Helsinki City Museum is located in the oldest blocks of the city near the Senate Square, and entrance is always free of charge. In the City Museum, everyone has the opportunity to fall in love with Helsinki.

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