Unto Uolevi and the creative process

A soft toy called Unto Uolevi was acquired for the collections of Helsinki University Museum Flame from the discipline of craft teacher training at the Faculty of Educational Sciences. This soft toy has its origins in a drawing by a daycare-aged child. The toy was created in 2012 on a course on the basics of craft science given by Professor Pirita Seitamaa-Hakkarainen and University Lecturer Henna Lahti. Some of the students participated in a project where the process of craft design was investigated through the creation of stuffed toys. The different stages of Unto Uolevi were recorded in the museum collections: the drawing, a prototype, a trial run and the final version.

A standing, striped light-beige and white soft toy with ears at the top and a black cap on the head.
Completed Unto Uolevi toy. Photo: Helsinki University Museum Flame/Maria Tukia.

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Edison’s talking machine

In the 19th century, the ideology of nationalism spread across Europe, taking hold in Finland too. During this time of national awakening, researchers and artists began to seek the material and immaterial roots of Finnish identity. The study of Finnish and Finno-Ugric languages was deemed important. Oral cultural traditions were preserved using an early recording device called a phonograph.

: A metal device with a cylinder and a crank, on a wooden base. Next to the device is a brown wax cylinder and, in the background, the wooden lid of the device, with a metal handle.
Photo: Timo Huvilinna.

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Measurements offer valuable insight into forests

Scientists measure natural phenomena and collect samples and specimens using various devices, instruments and containers. To celebrate the approach of summer, our object of the month is a measuring container used in forest research: a cuvette developed by a village blacksmith in Juupajoki in southern Finland.

A plastic transparent research container, composed of two parts, fixed on an iron stand.
A cuvette used in forest research in the 1970s. Photo: Sini Oksanen.

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A memento of a ceremony for the learned

This spring, we will again celebrate holders of master’s and doctoral degrees in solemn conferment ceremonies organised by University of Helsinki faculties. Our University has a long history of conferment ceremonies: the first such ceremony took place at the Academy of Turku (now the University of Helsinki) as early as 1643. To celebrate the festivities this spring, our object of the month is one of the many mementoes of previous ceremonies in our collections, a picture of the participants in the conferment ceremony of the Faculty of Philosophy in 1894.

A framed picture with photos of many individuals glued on cardboard.

Photo: Helsinki University Museum / Anni Tuominen

Similar conferment pictures were customary from the late 19th century to the 1950s. The collections of the Helsinki University Museum include a total of eight such pictures, the oldest from 1890 and the most recent from 1957. Photos of graduands have also occasionally been compiled into an album, which has been presented as a commemorative gift to the official garland-weaver.

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The Domus chair conquered the world

The object of the month in November is a Finnish design classic: a chair which is a familiar object to many Finns from a variety of spaces. The story of the Domus chair began during the housing shortage that followed the Second World War, although it is possible that the idea for the chair occurred to its designer, Ilmari Tapiovaara, as early as the 1930s. In any case, the bent plywood chair, originally designed for a student housing complex in Helsinki, gradually became a mass-produced international bestseller. The Helsinki University Museum has received items of Domus furniture designed by Tapiovaara as donations from the University of Helsinki’s Student Union.

A wooden chair with a curved backrest and short armrests.
An original chair from the Domus Academica building complex, now included in the collections of the Helsinki University Museum. Photo: Helsinki University Museum / Maria Tukia.

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The Observatory’s public timepiece

A beautiful old, still-functioning precision pendulum clock hangs on the wall of a corridor leading to the Argelander lecture room at the Helsinki Observatory. This ‘Normal Zeit’ clock used to be placed in the lobby of the Observatory building where it functioned as a public timepiece that Helsinki residents could use to check the time. It is soon again time to turn the clock one hour forward when summer time begins. There are plenty of clocks at the Helsinki Observatory, including several precision clocks, the oldest of which dates back to the 18th century. How are these clocks linked to the Observatory?

An elongated wall-mounted grandfather clock, with a round, glass-covered clock face in a wooden case and the clock pendulums behind a glass door underneath.
Normal Zeit clock at the Observatory. Photo: Helsinki University Museum/Timo Huvilinna, 2013.

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