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Inari Sámi Museum 50 Years

Jun 20, 2013 12:20 PM

Inari Sámi Museum was first opened for the public on the 25th of June 1963. On tuesday, june 25, Sámi Museum celebrates its 50 years, and Sámi Museum Siida organises a seminar on the history of the museum as well as guided tours in the Open-Air Museum.

Inari Sámi Museum 50 Years

Sámi Museum 50 Years – Celebration logo

The founding of the Sámi Museum rose from the desire to collect and maintain Sámi architectural culture and the Sámi cultural heritage of objects – heritages that were thought to disappear with time. The architectural heritage of the region had to a great extent been destroyed in the Lappish War. Because of reconstruction and the development of technology, the cultural environment changed drastically throughout the 1940s and 1950s, and the objects connected with the old way of life were being neglected.

The idea of a Sámi museum was fathered by Johan Nuorgam, a Sámi activist from Iijärvi Lake in Inari. As a young man, Nuorgam had worked as an attendant at Seurasaari Open-Air Museum in Helsinki. Maybe this was the experience that gave Nuorgam the idea of founding a similar open-air museum in Inari. Nuorgam made an initiative to establish such a museum in 1959 when he was the executive of the association Samii Litto. The association decided to have the project prepared by Nuorgam himself and another central figure in the association, Johan Erkki Jomppanen.

The association leased an area of seven hectares from the Finnish National Board of Medicine; the site was situated on Lake Inari, north of the River Juutua in the village of Inari. The mapping of old buildings suitable for the museum and the collection of objects started immediately. The first buildings for the museum were found in the near-by village of Tirro, and they were hauled to the future museum premises by reindeer in the winter of 1960.  Even on their new site, the log buildings of the Tirro homestead are valuable and rare original buildings that were not destroyed in the Lappish War.

In the collection of objects, extra assistance was provided by Paavo Kallio, the director of the Department of Botany of the University of Turku and the head of Kevo Research Station, and his students. Especially objects, household utensils, garments and clothing accessories that were connected with the traditional nature-based way of life were included in the collections of the open-air museum.

The path that winds through the open-air museum – and was once given by Johan Nuorgam the circle form of the Sámi lasso – is about 800 metres long. On the path, there are almost 50 items that have been arranged in groups according to their cultural area or their function. The tour around the open-air museum begins at “the village of Tirro”, an Inari Sámi farmyard from the 1800s. In addition to these log buildings, there are reconstructions of structures showing how the different Sámi groups used to live and store things and food; there is also a “hunting area” displaying northern hunting methods on the premises. The open-air museum is now available for visitors in summer as part of Siida’s exhibitions.

The special logo for the 50-year celebration is designed by Pia Aarnio (Design Villi Vimma). The logo is based on an old logo of the Inari Sámi Museum, one that was created  by Tapio Wirkkala.  The logo contains  a sámi storage hut, which is the symbol for the Open-Air Museum.

Further information:
Museum Director Tarmo Jomppanen, tarmo.jomppanen(at)samimuseum.fi, tel. +358 400 167806.

Programme June 25

Noon-2 P.M. Sámi Museum 50 Years Seminar, Siida Museum Auditorium (in Finnish, no translation available, free entry)
2 P.M. & 4 P.M. Guided tours in the Open-Air Museum in Finnish (duration approx. 1 h, included in the ticket)
3 P.M. A guided tour in the Open-Air Museum in English (duration approx. 1 h, included in the ticket)

Sámi museum, Siida, Inarintie 46, FI-99870 Inari, tel. +358 (0)400 898 212, siida@samimuseum.fi, www.siida.fi

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