Helsingin kaupunki, kulttuurin ja vapaa-ajan toimiala

The Helsinki Hobo exhibition takes visitors to the seamy side of Helsinki

Jaa

The new Helsinki Hobo exhibition at the Helsinki City Museum dives into the fringes of society. It gives the homeless, alcoholic men and women, sex workers, bootleggers, binge drinkers and small-time criminals living in shelters and nursing homes a voice. The exhibition is based on the texts and drawings of Johan Knut Harju who lived in Helsinki.

Johan Knut Harju (1910–1976) was an observer of oddities that lie under bridges and a determined reporter of street life. Harju was a self-taught writer and collector of tradition, but also a homeless alcoholic, whose life work was to record the things he encountered on the streets of Helsinki. 

Helsinki Hobo is the first ever exhibition on Harju’s life’s work, and it breathes life into this one-of-a-kind connoisseur and reporter of street life. Selected pages of Harju’s roughly 20,000 journal pages form the core of the exhibition. The journals are recorded in the Finnish Literature Society’s (SKS) folklore archives. They illustrate the rough reality of life in Kallio, Sörnäinen, Hermanni, Vallila and Ruoholahti, which was still located in a kind of blind spot in Helsinki in the 1960s and 70s.

The concept of the fourth floor of the City Museum includes expanding the idea of the museum by providing content that inspires strong emotions. “We wanted to highlight a theme that is often overlooked. A theme that is timeless, but changes with the times. We hope that visitors will be able to understand some of the insecurity of sleeping rough in the freezing cold and the hopelessness of fates pierced by heavy substance abuse – but also the humour and warm communal spirit used as a means of coping,” says exhibition producer Sauli Seppälä.

Graphic designer Tero Juuti brings Harju’s writings to life, as does a VR animation by director Hanna Västinsalo and animator Juulia Kääriä, which takes the viewer on a tram journey to the infamous dives of Helsinki narrated by Harju himself.

The exhibition is curated by folklorists Heli Paakkonen, Maija Karasvaara and Hanna Västinsalo together with the City Museum exhibition team. The exhibition space was planned by set designer Jones Maxwell.

Every Saturday, visitors can meet discussion guides at the exhibition. They are there to talk about homelessness and the unwritten history of Helsinki. Tour guides from the Hima & Strada walking tours serve as discussion guides. In addition to Hima & Strada, which operates in connection with Kalliola Settlement, cooperation partners of the exhibition include No Fixed Abode and the Finnish Literature Society.

The museum will also be holding events related to the exhibition in the autumn and winter. The first of these events is the ‘Runoilijan Rööperi’ (a poet in Punavuori) armchair trip on 21 November produced by Hima & Strada (in Finnish). The ‘Minuuden riistosta kohti oman elämänsä haltuunottoa’ (from being robbed of the self to taking charge of one’s life) discussion event will be held on Monday 25 November. The discussion will focus on how homelessness has changed in the past 50 years, and experiences of individuals and communities that can help overcome homelessness. The discussion event ‘Lähikuvassa J.K. Harju – urbaani kulkija ja kertoja, elämän kuvaaja ja kaupunkiperinteen kerääjä’ (portrait of J.K. Harju – an urban traveller and narrator, illustrator of life and urban tradition collector) will be held on the Night of Science on 16 January 2020.

Further information: 

Exhibition Producer Sauli Seppälä, tel. +358 (0)40 334 7001, sauli.seppala@hel.fi 
Director Hanna Västinsalo (VR), tel. +358 (0)40 736 7306, hanna.vastinsalo@gmail.com
Curators MA Heli Paakkonen +358 (0)50 531 4683, heli.paakkonen@gmail.com and
MA Maija Karasvaara +358 (0)40 740 4906, maija.karasvaara@gmail.com (Harju’s personal history and materials)
Set designer Jones Maxwell (space planning), tel. +358 (0)50 566 3595 jomax@uvic.a

Members of the media have the opportunity to visit the exhibition before the opening 11–13 November 2019.

Interview requests and scheduling tours:

Communications Planner Katja Pyykkö, tel. +358 (0)40 572 2905, katja.pyykko@hel.fi
Communications Planner Terhi Honkio, tel. +358 (0)40 169 9706, terhi.honkio@hel.fi

Helsinki Hobo 
15 November 2019–29 March 2020 
Helsinki City Museum, 4th floor
Aleksanterinkatu 16
Open Mon–Fri 11–19, Sat–Sun 11–17
Always free entry 

Avainsanat

Yhteyshenkilöt

Exhibition Producer Sauli Seppälä, tel. +358 (0)40 334 7001, sauli.seppala@hel.fi
Director Hanna Västinsalo (VR), tel. +358 (0)40 736 7306, hanna.vastinsalo@gmail.com
Curators MA Heli Paakkonen +358 (0)50 531 4683, heli.paakkonen@gmail.com and
MA Maija Karasvaara +358 (0)40 740 4906, maija.karasvaara@gmail.com (Harju’s personal history and materials)
Set designer Jones Maxwell (space planning), tel. +358 (0)50 566 3595 jomax@uvic.a

Interviews/scheduling tours: Contact details above

Kuvat

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J.K. Harju. Photo: The National Archives of Finland.
J.K. Harju. Photo: The National Archives of Finland.
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Photo: Eeva Rista, 1972. Helsinki City Museum.
Photo: Eeva Rista, 1972. Helsinki City Museum.
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Exhibition photo: Yehia Eweis. Helsinki City Museum.
Exhibition photo: Yehia Eweis. Helsinki City Museum.
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Exhibition photo: Yehia Eweis. Helsinki City Museum.
Exhibition photo: Yehia Eweis. Helsinki City Museum.
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Exhibition photo: Yehia Eweis. Helsinki City Museum.
Exhibition photo: Yehia Eweis. Helsinki City Museum.
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Linkit

Tietoja julkaisijasta

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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