Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Museums Helsinki, Finland, Thursday, 27 June 2013 11:19pm

I bought a "Helsinki Card" to use today and tomorrow. It includes use of all public transit and admission to a bunch of sights and museums. Our hotel is just far enough from the center (and my feet are just tired enough after weeks of walking on cobbles) to make the tram that runs from right outside very appealing, and I figure that there are enough 10 EUR museums that I want to go to the card will end up being a better deal than just a two day transit card. To make sure that's true, I visited a lot of museums today.

The first was the excellent Design Museum. On one floor it presents a detailed history of Finnish design, with plenty of attention to the Art Nouveau and Midcentury Modern periods. There's been a very pronounced seesaw between decorative and purely "functional" design here. On the other, it approaches parts of the collection by theme instead of my chronology.

Around the corner was the Architecture Museum, which also provided a history of Finnish architecture. There were a number of models of landmark buildings. It was pretty neat.

On our way to another museum, we detoured to visit the Temppeliaukion Church, which is a really neat construction. Rather than build upwards on the site, they cut down into the granite bedrock and used the excavated rock to build up the walls, and then covered the space with a copper dome. I really liked the rough-hewn walls, and the idea that we were in the rock, rather than above it. The acoustics were also great. They were playing some recorded music that sounded extremely clear. Unfortunately, it also meant they had to repeatedly shush the visitors, because even a little muttering gets loud quickly.

The Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum was our next stop. The current exhibitions included a lot of video installations, including several with multiple, synchronized screens. Sometimes this was used to tell a story simultaneously from several different perspectives. At other times, the purpose was less clear.

I was a little underwhelmed by the works on display at the Ateneum Art Museum. There were a few standout pieces (most of them by Akseli Gallen-Kallela), but most of the works seemed to be chosen as representative samples from the large collection, rather than because they were exceptional works themselves.

We went our separate ways for dinner. I ended up at a pub, where I drank a bunch of different Finnish beers (some pretty good examples of common styles, a solid Porter, a decent American Pale Ale, and a mild IPA) and ate meatballs and sausages with sauerkraut and mustard. Mmm.