Finland: Around Helsinki

I had planned to go to the national museum before I met up with Laura (under the clock at Stockmann’s of course, the traditional meeting place in Helsinki) but it didn’t open until 11 so I went to Kiasma, the contemporary art museum first while the heavens opened. Click the photos to embiggen them.

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The karhu that guards the national history museum
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Outside the music center, perhaps the pike Väinämoinen wrestled
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It’s always fun to see what they put in this big, two-level gallery space
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In the video section, some recently recovered Warhol films, including John and Yoko at the former’s birthday party (some footage appeared in the Imagine video). Shocked to see John with the same shoes I had in 8th grade O.O
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Väinämoinen and the pikebone kantele — actually without pigeons this time!
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Have to say hello to Havis Amanda: on May Day she is covered by students’ white caps (and drunken students)
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A great public art initiative, putting interesting works on the boring electrical boxes along the street
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At the observatory: the astronomers had to lay on the sofa to avoid movement
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What fun! A Star Wars toy exhibit, demonstrating how childhood fun can lead to lifelong ambition. Laura brought her children to the observatory when they were young and now Jyri studies and works at observatories around the world
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The young woman working there knew Jyri, so we got a few extras on the tour like the eastern rotunda not currently open to the public (learn more
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The architect wanted balance always, so since there was only one door leading to the rotunda, he had a second one painted in the lecture room. On the chalkboard equations remained from the last lecture given there several years ago.
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We also got to go up in one of the towers; the walkway had a low ceiling. One astronomer’s boys used it as a shooting range, so there were bullet holes in the door leading to the telescope.
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The telescope, much newer than the building yet rather old by scientific standards. Still used though — and you had to be sure to close the doors to the hatch so you didn’t fall through while shifting the telescope.
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There’s a sweet little café on the grounds, too. We had a salmon quiche and some cold drinks. Laura knows everyone — including the café owner! It was lovely, but even better was dinner that night with the family. Thanks Laura, Risto and Jyri!
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A beautiful afternoon in the Plague Park (Ruttopuisto) where the oldest church in the city can be found along with the memorials for those who died.
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Of course Lönnrot’s statue is well kept; the compiler of the folk runes that make up the Kalevala has an important legacy for all of Finand and the eternal sage and Aino make a rapt audience in perpetuity.