Gifts from medicine students

This month, we will be discussing two objects made by students of medicine, a tea cosy and a wall hanging. Both come from the maternity ward of the Helsinki general hospital. The maternity ward provided practical training on childbirth to candidates of medicine from 1833 onwards. A dedicated hospital for childbirth and gynaecological treatment as well as the practical study of gynaecology didn’t exist in Finland until the establishment of the Naistenklinikka Women’s Hospital in 1934.

A blue tea cosy with an embroidered fetus on the side.
The tea cosy is from 1928. Photo: Helsinki University Museum / Henna Sinisalo.

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Atelier knits

The University Museum’s craft science collection features several atelier-created evening gowns, but one stands out as exceptional: it is entirely made of knit fabric. The outfit includes a knitted evening gown, jacket and shawl as well as shoes dyed to match the gown. What is the history and background of this outfit? This has been the research focus of Docent Ritva Koskennurmi-Sivonen, whose articles have been used as references in this text.

Evening gown

A red, sleeveless evening dress with red pumps.
Photo: Anna Luhtala; Ritva Koskennurmi-Sivonen.

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Tower of the Winds from Sederholm’s scale model collection

At a time when long-distance travel was rare, faraway regions could be brought to people through the means of art and, later, photography. One way to examine culture and architecture was by studying scale models. They also afforded an opportunity to look into the past, especially in the case of historical locations that had not survived for posterity. As our object of the month for October, we present a scale model of the classical era Tower of the Winds from the Sederholm collection I catalogued last spring.

The scale model of the Tower of the Winds is light grey, octagonal building with red roof.
The scale model of the Tower of the Winds is 26 cm high. The weather vane in the shape of the god Triton that once adorned the rooftop has disappeared. Photo: Helsinki University Museum / Anna Luhtala.

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The “pear” that survived the Great Fire of Turku

Some physics instruments can be quite captivating due to, for instance, their peculiar shape or material. Take this pear-shaped object known as Nicholson’s hydrometer, for example. With the anniversary of the Great Fire of Turku of 1827 taking place on 4 September, we decided to select as the object of the month one of the treasures that survived the blaze and now features in our collection. What is this pear-shaped, streamlined, metallic object known variously as an areometer, a gravimeter, a densimeter and a hydrometer? The names tell us very little about the object itself, so let’s find out more.

Nicholson’s hydrometer, a device for measuring specific gravity.
Nicholson’s hydrometer, a device for measuring specific gravity, 1814. Helsinki University Museum.

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