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3 March to 31 December 2017

The exhibition reflects continuity and change in the cultures and ways of life of the native Arctic peoples. The exhibition displays a collection gathered by documentarian Markku Lehmuskallio in the 1980s and 1990s covering and discussing both traditional and modern themes. The items consist of works of art by representatives of modern Arctic artists as well as of artefacts from the old and world-famous Alaska collections of the Museum of Cultures. The exhibition also presents a work by photographic artist Jorma Puranen.


The Arctic Spirit introduces one to the major issues of the Arctic Region – the change in nature and living conditions. Before the external impact, the life of the northern peoples was based on survival on terms of the harsh environment, and nature gave a rhythm to the life of humans for thousands of years.


The natural resources of the Arctic Region began to rouse external interest especially since the 19th century. Commercial hunting of fur animals and sea mammals as well as forest and energy industries linked the northern areas to the global economy – often at the expense of the rights of indigenous peoples. External impact has speeded up the change in the way of life and culture of the northern peoples and now, climate change is also rapidly changing the environment.


Change and continuity are clearly discernible in the exhibition artefacts. The changes in the environment and means of livelihood are reflected, for example, in the fact that many of the traditional hunted animals, some of which are featured in the works of art, are threatened species today. The polar bear has become the symbol of Arctic climate change, since the drastic reduction of the sea ice cover directly impacts its survival. The revival of the traditional craftsmanship has begun, e.g. in Alaska, but some of the materials exploited earlier are no longer available, such as walrus gut.


When Finland’s two-year Chairmanship of the Arctic Council begins in May 2017, the Museum of Cultures wants to draw attention to the major change taking place in the Arctic Region. Melting of the glaciers and permafrost has a major impact not only on the people and nature of the region but on the globe as a whole.

The exhibition is on display in the pop-up facility of the National Museum and has free admission. The manuscript is written by Pilvi Vainonen from the Museum of Cultures and the exhibition is designed by architect Jouni Kaipia.

Further information

Curator Pilvi Vainonen
tel. +358 295 33 6432

Director Eija-Maija Kotilainen
tel. +358 295 33 6431

Press pictures
Arktisen henki