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10.10.2014 - 1.2.2015

The National Museum, 2nd floor

The exhibition features photographs by researcher of Siberian languages and cultures Kai Donner from his expeditions between 1911 and 1914. The year 2014 marks the centennary of his expeditions, which were done 100 years ago.

Kai Donner (1888‒1935) was a Finnish linguist, ethnographer, explorer, writer and a political figure. He went on two expeditions to Siberia and his subject of study was the Selkup language, known as Ostyak-Samoyed at the time.

The photos of Kai Donner take you on a time travel to Siberia in the 1910´s. In the exhibition one can meet indigenous people, but also merchants, officials, priests, monks, doctors and descendants of Finns, Swedes and Germans exiled to Siberia in Russian towns and villages.
Donner succeeded in photographic shamans who agreed to have their pictures taken after hesitating for a long while. In addition, he photographed landscapes and the various stages of his travels.

Donner's first expedition in 1911 extended to the wilderness regions, tundra and taiga between the Ob and Yenisei rivers. He occasionally travelled in temperatures around -50 Celsius. The journey from the River Taz to the Ob was carried with reindeer in the company of Samoyeds through uninhabited tundra. This journey of over 500 km was full of adventures with the threat of frostbite and even starvation. In 1914, Donner travelled once again to Siberia and succeeded in recording in his notes the language of the last Kamassians on the slopes of the Sayan Mountains.

Donner had two cameras in Siberia. His Kodak No. 2 Bulls-Eye box camera produced square (86.5 x 86.5 mm) pictures and the No. 3A Folding Pocket Kodak camera postcard-sized pictures (82 x 140 mm). Donner's collection of photographs containing over 500 negatives is included in the Picture Collections of the National Board of Antiquities.

The manuscript to the photography exhibition is written by Professor Juha Janhunen PhD from The University of Helsinki and by photographer Peter Sandberg and by keeper Ildikó Lehtinen.
The exhibition also includes events and an illustrated publication Kai Donner Linguist, ethnographer, photographer in English.

Further information

Aino-Maija Kaila
tel. 040 128 6362
Donner vene SMALL