On Monday 30th January we visited the Observatory, one of the Helsinki university museums. It is incredibly easy to get to, a leisurely short walk from the city center. We were greeted by Paula, a very energetic, bubbly and extremely knowledgeable tour guide who made us all feel at home.
The observatory was completed in 1834 is now a museum but was lived in as recently as the 1960’s by the professor of astronomy. There are several fun reminders of its residential history such as a section of the wallpapers through the years or the antique cooker near the cloakroom.
The tour begins in a room with some fascinating old equipment such as telescopes and documents and we even discover that the lounge ceiling would have opened to allow the astronomer to lounge back on his chair and study the night skies. It sounds very idyllic and extremely romantic until we discover that the fireplace in the room would have remained cold as the heat would cause visual disturbances. Perhaps a little chilly in the winter!
University of Helsinki’s Main Building (Päärakennus) has never looked as bright and colourful as this week, when pops of pinks, blues, yellows and blacks donned the entrance hall from floor to ceiling in celebration of Thinkfest. As one of the main events held in honour of the university’s 375th year, this urban festival invites and encourages everyone to participate in constructing definitions and ideas of ‘Global Helsinki’: What does it look like? Who does it belong to? And who gets to decide from which perspective a global Helsinki is viewed?