87 separate buildings give an overall view of the life in Finnish countryside from the 18th to the 20th.
The Seurasaari Open-Air Museum was founded in 1909 by Professor Axel Olai Heikel. The Museum consists of buildings from the different provinces of Finland. Relocated to Seurasaari Island, they give an overall view of the life in Finnish countryside from the 18th to the 20th. At present, there are 87 separate buildings at Seurasaari.
Antti represents the enclosed farmyard pattern. It was brought from Säkylä, western Finland and erected at Seurasaari in 1930-31. Houses with enclosed farmyards were built since the Middle Ages in western Finland where the open-field division of land was followed. The villages were grouped on riversides and waterfronts.
The right-angled yard is flanked by buildings and divided into a farmyard and a barnyard. The farmyard is surrounded by buildings used by the inhabitants: the main building, loft storehouse for sleeping and storing clothes, food cellar, auxiliary kitchen and sauna. In the barnyard are the shelters for pigs, sheep, cows and oxen and the feed barns. The yards are separated by the so-called uncle’s dwelling, a building, where the master’s unwed brother lived in a household of his own although he worked on the farm.
The main building was rebuilt after a fire in the 1820s. The actual dwelling part of the building consists of the large main room, the auxiliary room or kitchen and two bedrooms. The dwelling rooms are an example of the symmetrical ‘twin-room’ floor plan dating back to Renaissance. The porch on the left leads into the parlour and the guest room.
The main room was the centre of daily life. It was where the inhabitants ate and engaged in crafts and the children of the household and the maidservants and the hired hands slept. The room is divided into a women’s side and a men’s side. The rear of the main room was the more honourable side and it was not to be entered without an invitation. Cooking and baking took place in the kitchen. Säkylä is in the West-Finnish region where bread was baked only twice a year. The bread was dried on the rafters in the kitchen and stored in the granary.
The master and his wife slept in the master bedroom and the eligible daughter in a bedroom of her own. The parlour was used only for special occasions, such as weddings, funerals and so-called reading bees. At other times, this room was unheated. Guests slept in the guest room.
Because of fire risk, granaries and threshing houses were usually built outside the yard area. At the Antti farmstead, outside the yard area, there is a woodshed, a toolshed, a wagon shed and a carriage and sledge shed.
The museum café, Kaffeliiteri, operates in the woodshed. It is open during the Museum’s opening times.
The Halla house
The Halla farmstead was brought to the Museum in 1965 from Hyrynsalmi where it had stood alone on Hallavaara fell like it was customary in the Kainuu region. The main room is one hundred square metres in floor area and it was built in the early 1800s.
The other end of the house was totally renovated in the late 1800s by the famous master of the farm, Member of Parliament J. A. Heikkinen. He revived agriculture, and in his time, the Halla farmstead was also a stopping-over place for the Jaegers.
The Halla farmstead was inhabited until 1958. The main room retained its bare workroom appearance until the last occupants. Many chores and crafts were practised in the main room; such as the making of vessels, sledges and tar barrels, and even slaughtering and the shoeing of horses. The room also provided overnight accommodation for farmhands, reindeer herders, loggers and itinerant travellers. Particularly at market-time, there were many extra visitors spending the night. The doors were never locked.
The Parsonage from Iisalmi
The Iisalmi Parsonage was built by master-builder Simon Silvén in 1797-98. The vicar at the time was Johan Lagus. The building consisted originally of six rooms, the kitchen and entrance room. The floor plan is found in Carl Wijnblad's book of model designs from 1755. Later during the 19th century, lower wings were added to both ends of the building. Only the mansard-roofed skeleton from the 1700s was brought to Seurasaari in the 1960's.
In the Museum, the rooms at the other end of the building are furnished in the style of 19th-century parsonages. Each rooms represents the term of office of a different vicar of the parish. The drawing room represents the early 1800's, the bishop's room the 1840s and the dining room mainly the 1860's.
The office represents the terms of vicars J. L. Lagus and Th. Brofeldt, the father of the famous Finnish author Juhani Aho. The Parsonage was opened to the public in 1984 when the Museum had its 75-year-anniversary.
The Ivars farmstead
The Ivars farmstead from Närpiö was built in 1764. The constructor is said to have been Dean Henrik Johan Carlborg who, however, died already in 1766. The Ivars farmstead had been bought in his son’s, Jacob Henrik Carlborg’s, name in 1763. The two-storey main building has features resembling the upper-class dwellings of the period. The floor-plan largely resembles standard plans from 1730 for the residences of colonels and majors. The main room with an access to the bedroom and the drawing room are located downstairs. The south bedroom, the imperial chamber and the bedroom with an access to the small bedroom are located upstairs.
In the early 1800's, the Ivars farmstead was owned by peasants and it served as an inn. When Tsar Alexander I visited Finland in 1819, he stopped there to rest and change horses. In honour of the occasion, a new porch with Empire decorations was built and one of the upstairs rooms was converted into a so-called imperial chamber. The walls were decorated with green wallpaper with an Empire-style frieze design and a new tiled stove standing on legs was especially acquired for the occasion. Also the furniture, the table, sofa, bed and six chairs were repainted.
The Ivars yard was originally surrounded by buildings. The gatehouse, originally located opposite the main building, was brought to the Museum. Leading from the gateway is a door to the stable and a room for various household utensils. In the summer months, the loft above this room served as a sleeping space. Juror Hedman’s auxiliary dwelling from Ylimarkku is located on the other side of the yard. It is a typical dwelling of a retired couple consisting of the main room and a couple of small bedrooms.
Kahiluoto Manor House
The Kahiluoto Manor was brought to Seurasaari from the island of Kahiluoto in Taivassalo. Kahiluoto was a manorial estate already in the Middle Ages when it was owned by the Ille family. After that it descended in the Footangel and Stark families. The main building was built during the ownership of Agneta Eleonora de la Myle ca. in 1790. The oldest picture of the manor is F. L. de la Myle's drawing from 1796. The manor was sold on several occasions in the early 1800s until it was acquired by a local farmer who did not need the main building. It was sold to the Museum and brought to Seurasaari in 1926.
The middle part of the main building has two storeys. The ground plan was inspired by the model plans in an architectural guide published in 1755 by Carl Wijnblad. The front of the building has two entrances which was rare at the time. There were no porches. There were stairs leading from the entrance rooms to upstairs. The building has three drawing rooms, a kitchen and nine other rooms.
In the Museum, the dining room and the downstairs drawing room were papered with Gustavian cloth wallpaper from Olkkala Manor in Vihti. The drawing rooms, the downstairs bedroom, lady's room and master's room represent the 1700s. The furniture is from various manors. The downstairs corner room is decorated as a Biedermeier reception room and the upstairs guest rooms have Biedermeier or neo-Rococo furniture. The large kitchen with its enormous oven resembles rustic dwellings. The open shelves in the kitchen are original.
The Church from Karuna
The Karuna Church is the oldest building in the Museum. It was built in 1685-86 and brought to the Museum in 1912. The church was built by the owner of the Karuna Manor in Sauvo, Baron Arvid Horn. He built it as a chapel of his own to which he had the right of patronage, the right to select the clergymen. The church was named after his second wife, Maria Elisabet.
The church had originally a hipped roof and an even ceiling. The church was refurbished in 1773-74 by the master builder Anders Wahlberg and was now given its present steep peaked roof. The interior was fitted with a barrel vault and the windows, set in leads, were enlarged. These alterations were commemorated with a weather vane bearing the date 1774. The bell tower was also built by Anders Wahlberg in 1767. The church bell, cast in Stockholm in 1754, was a donation from the congregation of Liljendal.
The Karuna Church was built by Baron Arvid Horn in 1685. The bell tower was added in 1767 by Anders Wahlberg, who also repaired the church in 1773. The pulpit dates from the 1600's. The church's painted decorations are shown to best advantage by the drapery patterns that have been painted on the lower parts of walls. The church is decorated by 11 oil paintings. Christ and the Apostles are pictured on the railing of the organ gallery. The stocks in the vestibule are from the Nurmijärvi Church.
The Kurssi farmstead
The main living room located at one end of the farmhouse was the center of daily life. It was there that food was prepared, bread was baked, and the family ate and slept. The master and mistress of the house slept in their own separate bedroom. The large room at the other end of the building contained looms for summer weaving and is adjoined by an unheated food storeroom. Upstairs, in the daughter’s attic quarters, the retired couple lived as a separate economic unit. The loft’s downstairs quarters were occupied by the master’s brother during summers. The daughter’s loft, with its display of textiles, is located upstairs.
The Niemelä tenant farm
The Museum's oldest building group, was brought to Seurasaari in 1909. The oldest structure is a smoke sauna. The smoke-warmed cottage located opposite, dating from 1844, is the building's only living quarters. A milk storeroom is reached through the entrance vestibule. In summer months, cooking took place under the shelter that stands in the yard. The stable contained space for horses on the bottom floor and summer sleeping rooms for female family members on the upper level. The yard still contains the shed for fishing equipment and the 5 outbuildings that were each the private property of family members. The farmyard features a cowshed, pigsty, and farther away, a drying barn. A boathouse used for storing sweep nets is located near the shore, along with a conical pole tent where water for washing laundry was heated.
The Selkämä house
One end of the building contains a large living room, originally smoke-warmed, and the other end contains a food preparation room with a small adjoining bedroom and kitchen. A separate room opening off the entrance vestibule served as the master and mistress's sleeping quarters. The two-storey outbuilding situated in the yard opposite the stable building contains a granary and meat storeroom on the lower level with sleeping quarters above.