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13.07.2020

Seurasaari, Helsinki

Seurasaari (Swedish: Fölisön) is a museum island on the western outskirts of downtown Helsinki. Since 1909, the island has had an open-air museum where old wooden buildings from all over Finland have been moved. The territory of the open-air museum is located in the eastern and northern part of Seurasaari and covers about one third of the island.

Seurasaari covers an area of about 46 hectares. Accordingly, the surrounding water area of Seurasaarenselkä also takes its name . In the Seurasaarenselkä district, Seurasaarenselkä is considered part of Meilahti. There is a bus service to the end of the bridge that leads to the island from the centre of Helsinki (line 24 from Ullanlinna via Erottaja). It is forbidden to ride or bicycle on Seurasaari without a special permit, and those arriving on the island are required to use public transport due to lack of parking spaces. In addition to outdoor areas, the island also has a summer restaurant and two beaches, one of which is a nudist beach. Restaurant Seurasaari, located in Seurasaari, has a cafe and you can also organize wedding parties there.

Seurasaari is a protected area belonging to the city of Helsinki. The National Board of Antiquities is responsible for the open-air museum. The Island Society Foundation is responsible for the organization of the island's annual celebrations and supports construction works. The most popular annual event on the island is the Seurasaari Midsummer, organized by the Seurasaari Foundation. It is part of the festivals in Finland . The culmination of this event is a midsummer wedding, where the wedding couple light up a party. The Seurasaari Christmas Path, which will be organized in December, has also become a mass event. Those interested in Seurasaari have their own association, the Friends of Seurasaari. The association organizes talks on Seurasaari, excursions and other events.

Seurasaari was formed as a national park in 1889 and has become a popular destination for excursions and parties. In the beginning, there was only a connection by boat to the island. The bridge was built of trees cut down by an autumn storm in 1891-1892. The buildings associated with the National Park were designed by the architect Fritjof Miric according to the Scandinavian style. Still outdoors, sunbathing and picnics on the island. However, for many years there was no ferry service to the island.

The open-air museum Seurasaari was once the first in Finland. The open-air museum started with the move of the Niemelä cottage to Seurasaari in 1909. The artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela and architect Jürije Blomstedt wanted to save these buildings under threat of destruction. Aksel Olai Heikel, PhD, played a significant role in moving the buildings from Konginkangas from Central Finland to a new location in Helsinki. He was the founder of the open-air museum and its first curator. Heikel's aim was to relocate their typical buildings from all Finnish provinces to Seurasaari and thus introduce the inhabitants of the capital to the traditional Finnish culture of building and housing. The idea of an open-air museum was popular in European cities at that time, and the closest example was the Skansen open-air museum in Stockholm. In the early days, for example, Lapland and church boats. Originally a private museum in 1913, it is under state control and is now the national open-air museum of the National Council of Antiquities.

The museum's collections today include over thirty buildings and 87 individual buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries. The oldest building in the museum is the wooden oldest church in Karuna (1686) from south-western Finland. In summer it serves as a popular wedding church. The church also hosts divine services and concerts during the summer. The founder of the open-air museum A.O. Heikel and his wife are buried in the yard of Karuna Church.

The most complete museum yard circles in Seurasaari are the previously mentioned house of Nimel from Konginkangas and the closed courtyard of Antti to Xiaquil. The buildings of the estate are Kahiluoto Manor from Taiwan in southwest Finland and the house of priest Iisalmi . Also noteworthy is Kaiji House from Hull Hyryunsaogo , Pertinotsa from Raja-Karjala and Savolainen Selkämä from Pieksämäki . Ostrobothnian houses are presented by Kurssi Kuortanee and Ivars Närpiö.

The Seurasaari Open Air Museum is popular with tourists and is visited by tens of thousands of people every year. Especially in May and September, the museum is an important place for group visits to nearby schools. The museum is only open part of the year, mainly from May 15 to September 15. During the summer season, the museum organises regular excursions in several languages (especially Finnish, Swedish, English and German) and presents life of the past with exhibitions of handicrafts and folk music. The open-air museum staff has its own theatre group Palkolliset, which creates the museum's summer play. The managers of the museum are mainly summer workers who study cultural and traditional subjects at university level. Seurasaari, which has taken place in recent years, plays! A week of folk music was produced mainly by forces outside the museum.

The 100th anniversary of the Seurasaari Open Air Museum was celebrated in 2009. In addition to the official programme, the former museum guide also produced a media video about Seurasaari, which was covered in the media.

The name of the island appeared in old documents and on maps of Feliso (1681), Fellies Landet (1696), Felison (1732), Felice Hollman (1767), Felizon (1775), Felislande (1842) and Felison-Seurassaari (1902). The first part of the name here means perhaps a young horse (in Swedish: fel, feling = foal), and this island must have been the pasture of the stallion Meylahti . The Finnish equivalent of the name was Fölisaari in the 19th century and Seurasaari from the early 20th century. Since the island has been a national park since the 1880s, it is assumed that the first part of the Swedish name means Swedish word felje ' Seur'. The current nomenclature was created in 1909. 

Geographically, Seurasaari is characterized by rocky hills, wet ridges and groves. The southern coast is protected as a feeding ground for the chicks.

The island is known for its fearless animals, especially proteins. Animals are used to humans because of long feeding periods, but nowadays feeding is not recommended. Squirrels live on the island in addition to ducks, geese, swans and rabbits, as well as mink and raccoon dogs. Sheep are also found on the island during the summer.

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