deliasherman (deliasherman) wrote,


I'm on the train to Turku, watching the meadows and the woods slide by, shades of green interspersed with flashes of polished steel that are lakes and ponds. It's another lovely day, a pale blue sky dotted with little fluffy clouds. Oh--there's a young plantation of fir trees, all lined up in neat rows, waiting to become forest. And a field of those magenta flowers that aren't loosestrife (I don't think), but occupy the place of loosestrife along the verges of the tracks and in the fields.

Anyway. Tampere.

Yesterday was delightful. Marianna and Pasi swept us off at 11 to the Amuri Museum of Worker's Housing. I don't have access to the internet just now, so I can't look up the details, but as I recall, Tampere became a manufacturing center after the 1820's, when a Scott named James Finlayson opened a fabric mill. Someone (it's not clear to me who or how or when) built wooden colonies to house the over 5,000 workers who staffed the mill. The colonies are connected dwellings built in a hollow square around a common sauna, latrine, and stable. Each unit contains four smallish rooms opening off a central kitchen with a fireplace large enough to accommodate four separate cooking hearths. A room was home to as many people as could fit into it. A married couple with 2-3 children would often rent out floor space to one or two adult boarders. 4-7 single adult workers might share a room.

As you can guess, furniture was at a minimum. The primary occupants had a narrow bed with a telescoping frame so it wouldn't take up as much room during the day. The children slept on straw-stuffed mattresses on the floor. Boarders slept in sling-like cots suspended on trestles, which got disassembled and stored in a corner during the day. This just about left room for a chest for clothing, a small table to eat and work at, a couple of straight chairs, and maybe a rocking chair or a cradle or a sewing machine. The walls were caulked with tar.

The cool thing about the museum is that they've restored each of the 40 or so rooms in the 5 connected houses to a different year, beginning with 1889 and ending with 1973, when the last inhabitants moved to modern housing developments. In the early years, people papered the plank walls with old newspapers to keep out the drafts. Patterned wallpaper began to creep in around the turn of the century, along with chests of drawers and the occasional bed that could double as a sofa. Carpets appeared as the town grew more prosperous, along with a slight lessing in density (although telescoping beds were still a constant--including a dear telescoping crib). From the 1950's onwards, there was more furniture and fewer people per room, with some folks living in solitary splendor with a couch and a bed and a wardrobe and a table and a comfy chair and a radio and a hotplate so they could do their cooking in their own room.

I know everything was carefully curated and set-dressed, but it was fascinating and a little eerie to peek into each room and see clothes laid on the beds and hung on wooden spools nailed to the wall, the tables set, the children's toys scattered across the floor, hear water bubbling on a stove or the Olympic games on the radio, as if the tenants had just left or were just about to come home. Outside one building, old-fashioned stilts were propped against a stoop for people to try if they had a mind, and wooden hobby horses.

We wandered and gawked, with Marianna filling in the gaps in the English Language guide from her own knowledge of Finnish history, and exclaiming delightedly over rooms recently opened to the public. Most of the 20th Century rooms were as new to her as they were to us, as well as the latrines and the good-sized sauna, with its giant stove and its balcony with metal railing wrapped in rags so it wouldn't burn your hands.

When we got tired, we ate home-made sandwiches and soup at the lovely outdoor cafe, bought postcards and dip pens with steel nibs (because we both love dip pens--that's what I learned to write with in school--a dip pen), and then, much refreshed, headed off to the Moomin Museum.

Wow. That's all I have to say. Wow.

Okay, I have more to say.

I thought I loved the Moomins before. I'd read what I could find when I was a child: The Finn Family Moomintroll, Comet in Moominland, possibly Tales from Moominvalley (the books themselves are long-gone, so I can't be sure). I could write a whole post (and may, if I have time) about the later books, and what I'm learning about life, love, and community from Tove Jansson, but I want to finish this before we get to Turku (ooh--a whole field of rapeseed, all gold and glowy and. . . it's gone, and we're back in the pines).

So this is not the Disneyfied Moominworld theme park. This is a serious permanent exhibit of Jansson's original pen and ink drawings and paintings for the novels, comics, and picture books, as well as the astonishing dioramas made by her lover, Tuulikki Pietila. Some of the dioramas are 3D renditions of existing sketches. Most are expansions of scenes Jansson merely indicated, with scenery and background and characters that were in the text, but not the original pictures. There are even scenes they must have made up together, of parts of the Moominvalley Jansson never visited in print. And they're remarkable.

My personal favorite, out of the 40 or so on display, was from Moominland Midwinter, when the Squirrel with the Marvellous Tail has looked into the eyes of the Lady of the Cold. There is the Lady of the Cold, white, veiled, sparkling, crowned with icy blossoms, the squirrel stark at her feet, and the Moomin family's bathing hut where Too-Ticky spends the winter. Too-Ticky, Little My, and Moomintroll are huddled inside around the stove, and Hemulen in his yellow and black zig-zag sweater (I wonder if Charles Schultz got Charlie Brown's sweater from Jansson, or if it's a case of serendipity) is standing in the snow outside, looking somewhat forlorn. The snow is sculpted out of styrofoam, with sparkles. The effect is simultaneously natural and artificial, and very concentrated--a whole frozen world in a glass box. Even the summer ones have that arrested quality, as if they've just stopped moving, or will move again as soon as your back is turned. It's very magical.

I should have taken pictures, but I forgot. Besides, I suspect photographs wouldn't do them justice. Tuulikki (on whom Too-Ticky is modeled) was a fine artist.

It was wonderful seeing Jansson's drawings, too. Her line is so much firmer and more economical in person than in reproduction, black strokes biting into thick white paper. I took my glasses off and stuck my face right up into them to see the lines that went into a flock of birds, a forest of trees, Little My's gleeful glare. When we'd seen all we could take in, we went to the Moomin store. I got Moominland Midwinter so I could read about the Squirrel with the Marvelous Tail and Moominvalley in November so I could read about the Fillyjonk and Snufkin and Toft, and the picture-book Who Will Comfort Toffle, because the paintings for it were all displayed, and I found them beautiful. Oh, and some socks for friends, because having a Moomin on your ankles can only make your day better.

Possibly we should have quite while we were ahead. Instead, we proceeded to the Stableyard, where there were crafts and a horse and more tea and pastry. And then Marianna and Pasi had to go home, which was sad, but all good things come to an end some time, even beautiful, long summer days. We wandered around a bit more, than walked back to the hotel and collapsed briefly before going out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant--which wasn't exactly good, but deeply satisfying anyway.

Phew. I'm caught up. And soon we'll be in Turku, and Tero will pick us up (Finncon, part 3) and we'll drive out on the Archipelago and spend the night in Parainen.
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