Interactive history at Fiskars Museum, Finland
Fiskars Museum is located in the ironworks village of Fiskars, western Finland. The Fiskars company is known worldwide for their iconic orange-headed scissors; today, Fiskars encompasses brands such as Royal Copenhagen and Iittala. The Fiskars Museum brings forth the history of the company and its struggles in the nineteenth century, before it cemented its place as an international, competitive company.
In the first room of the museum, on a chalkboard, the following questions jumped out at me: “What is worth conserving? What is valuable?” This may be an odd way to begin a museum exhibition, but these questions were striking as the first room tells the story of how the museum was renovated in 2014. As a historian, those questions would not have been something I would have even considered–everything from the past has value and whatever is possible to conserve, should be conserved. Remnants of old wallpapers were shown as well in a frame, reminding the visitor of the number of people who had lived in the house-turned-museum and how much effort the museum had previously gone to keep everything looking authentic and believable.
The overall history the museum tells is of one of the most interesting owners of the company, Johan Jacob Julin, who bought the company in 1822. The previous owned, Bengt Ludvig Björkman had mental issues, which was problematic for the company. Once Julin took over, he was a good employer—having visited England and been influenced by ideas of utopianism, he implemented an eight-hour workday and workers’ wives received compensation if their husbands died whilst working.
There were many great aspects of the museum which stuck out for me. The first one, located in the second room of the exhibition, is a series of small cupboard doors. When you open a cupboard, an item is behind glass and an explanation is displayed on the door of how this item fits into the history of the museum.
Next, there were two rooms in which you could put on clothing of the era. My friends and I dressed up in the clothing, and took goofy pictures. Nevertheless, the striking difference between the rich and poor was visible from the clothing styles and this, I believe, places importance on taking on the role of someone else and stripping yourself from the ‘comfortably middle class’ identity we all have nowadays.
Across the street from the main building, the exhibition continued and we went into an old bakery. In the room, there were three women dressed in nineteenth century costume. The English speaker of the room presented us with a history of the room and told that it was used to bake the whole year’s worth of bread. Parts of the room were still original; other parts had been re-done over the years to preserve its function. Afterwards, the presenter offered us some tasty Finnish coffee and biscuits, which we happily accepted.
As the rain fell outside and we sipped coffee on an ancient wooden table, the coffee and ässäkeksit (‘S-biscuits’) tasted even better than usual.
Edited to fix factual errors
Tickets: Adults 5 €, Concessions €3 , Under 18 years free admission
Open: Monday to Sunday 11am to 5pm