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06.08.2020

Luostarinmaki Museum Quarter, Turku

Luostarinmäki Museum Quarter is an open-air museum located in the center of Turku, near Vartiovuori. Administratively, the museum belongs to the Turku Museum Center . As an open-air museum, it is extremely valuable throughout the world, as the buildings in this area are in their original locations. On the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the museum in the summer of 2020, the name and appearance of the museum was updated. Under the name Luostarinmäki you can find the museum's craft history in Turku, the unique history of the city and various personal stories. The name Luostarinmäki was used for the block after the fire in Turku in 1827. Previously the museum was called Luostarinmäki Crafts Museum.

Luostarinmäki is also the only single area of wooden houses in Turku, which, thanks to its location, survived the fire of Turku in 1827. The Luostarinmäki Crafts Museum was opened to the public on 29 June 1940. Together with Vartiovuorenmäki and the Turku Academy Observatory it is also one of the most important architectural monuments in Finland.

The museum consists of eighteen wooden houses built in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, consisting of more than thirty wooden houses preserved in their original places. The houses were decorated in pre-industrial times by urban craftsmen. In summer, craftsmen work in the workshops to provide visitors with an opportunity to learn about traditional crafts. From the very beginning of the museum, caretakers, guides and artisans have been dressed in modern costumes, showing folk costumes from the early 18th and 20th centuries. The museum also has its own post office and two shops: in the Höökari shop you can buy vintage sweets packaged in a real one, and in the museum shop in Hantvärk you can buy handmade items from the museum, among others. Outside the museum area, there is also the Kisälli Café in the house, which was built in the mid-19th century.

The highlight of the summer since 1943 are the Craft Days in August, which bring together about 40 representatives of different professions and skills to present their work in the museum. The most important event of the winter season is the Christmas season, when visitors can experience the Christmas holidays of past generations. During this time, Christmas tables will be set up in the houses, where Western Finnish festive dishes will be presented. Since 1954, tapana singers have been held on Tapan Day.

The museum was awarded the Golden Apple of 1984 by the International Federation of Tourist Writers and Journalists (FIJET), the only one in Northern Europe. This award pushed the craftsmen of Luostarinmäki to create their own guild. The Statutes of the Golden Apple Guild are dated 13 April 1985. Craftsmen who have participated in the activities of the Luostarinmäki Guild for at least two years may be admitted as members. Today there are about 70 members of the Guild. The aim of the Guild is to act as a link between the craftsmen of Luostarinmäki and to promote the development of craftsmanship and continuity of traditional craftsmanship. The guilds help to popularize old trades and transfer their skills to new professionals. The Guild embodies high professionalism. Other participants include a jeweler, confectioner, seamstress, decorative sculptor, printer, handmade carpenter, potter, upholsterer, violin maker, turquoise maker and representatives of various textile industries.

Zoning of Luostarinmäki for residential development began in the late 18th century. The name Luostarinmäki refers to the monastery quarter, one of the Turku districts of the time, of which this district was a part. The settlement of a remote and barren area in relation to the city centre was affected by the lack of land and housing due to the growing population of the city. The deficit was worsened by the fire in Aninkaistenmäki in 1775, which resulted in a new, more extensive plan of the city, which reduced the number of plots. The demolition and construction of plots in Luostarinmäki started in the 1780s and moved up the slope from the present day Sirkkalankatu, as the lower area was smoother and more convenient for construction. By the beginning of the 19th century all sections had been cut off. 

People who did not need a house in the centre of the town for their profession applied for the residents of Luostarinmäki. Among them were carpenters and sailors, as well as defenders of the city, such as boarders, drivers and packers. Many moved to the city from rural areas where they had no homes or land. Ownership of property meant ensuring old age and a better livelihood in a society without pensions or social security. The aliens did not move into rented land, but bought their own plots. The first buildings were erected rather quickly. Few houses were built on site, however, as it was quicker and easier to buy a ready-made building and move it to a new plot. The stone used to be quarried on a hill, so the buildings were easy to reach.

Initially the residents built a small cottage or bridal house, as well as the most necessary outbuildings. The buildings were enlarged as needed with additional parts and rooms as needs changed, and additional buildings were built in the yards, for example, for pets. As a result, in many areas the buildings were surrounded by the entire yard. The owners of the houses and their residents changed rapidly. For example, houses and rooms could be divided into apartments for tenants or family members. 

In addition to workers, city officials, as well as some burghers and merchants, lived in the monastery. The fire in Turku in 1827 changed the meaning of the word Luostarinmäki. The number of homeless people wanted to rent more than could be rented in the untouched area, and the population of Luostarinmäki almost doubled. With the new city plan, property prices in Luostarinmäki became cheaper, and in particular, the number of artisans in the area increased. At the same time, the share of tenants in the population was increasing as landlords moved to another place. From 1820s to 1850s about half of the inhabitants of Luostarinmäki were artisans. The professional structure was diversified by the relaxation of professional rights of craftsmen in 1850s - iotmen in 1868. In particular, the number of women artisans increased, and at the end of the century seamstresses and weavers were the largest group of craftswomen. The population density in Luostarinmäki was the highest in 1870.

According to a grid designed by Carl Ludwig Engel, the reconstructed town grew around Luostarinmäki in the 19th century and the buildings in the area were the remains of a fire. Luostarinmäki, which originally served as a residence for people of working age, began to age at the end of the 19th century and at the same time the number of inhabitants was steadily decreasing. The share of the population over 65 years of age began to grow rapidly and at the beginning of the 20th century the Luostarinmäki was mainly inhabited by old unmarried women and widows. The shortage of inhabitants at the beginning of the 20th century was affected by the small size and low level of equipment in Luostarinmäki's houses: the houses, for example, had no sewage, water and electricity. Many of the houses were handed over from the old owners to the landlords, and although the buildings were repaired, many of them were in poor condition. 

The fate of Luostarinmäki was already mentioned when the city plan was drawn up in 1828, as the area did not fit into the new square plan of the city, which should have been followed during the new construction. In comparison with the new formula, Luostarinmäki was close and old-fashioned. However, it took a long time to implement the formula, despite the fact that new buildings were built around Luostarinmäki. Luostarinmäki was not threatened with demolition until the early 20th century. The lowest row of plots was below the new Arseninkatu (now Sirkkalankatu) in 1901, and in plans that changed several times in the first decades of the 20th century, the whole area was to be transformed, among other things, into the area of villas and residential buildings. Some buildings were also proposed to be relocated to Ruissalo. for the new planned open-air museum. At the same time, the preservation of this area was the subject of discussions in the press, for example, influenced by the statements of Axel Haartman, a Turku artist who painted Luostarinmäki plots in favour of the value of Luostarinmäki. In 1911, lecturer Julius Finnberg raised the idea of establishing an open-air museum in Luostarinmäki in Turku Sanomat, which aroused great interest. The initiative was particularly supported by artists, scientists from universities and some eyewitnesses to the city, such as trade advisers Frederick von Rettig and Axel Wiklund. The statements were emotional and related to the romantic interest of the time. history and monuments . Interest in history also increased thanks to the Finnish and Swedish speaking universities founded in the city after Finnish independence - Turku has not had a university since the Turku Academy was transferred to Helsinki after the Turku fire. Proponents of preserving the monastery have also been criticised for romanticizing the area too much, as living conditions in dilapidated apartments have been quite poor. According to the critics, the daily life of the inhabitants was far from being as idyllic. However, as a result of the activities of museum workers, such as the museum council and other private individuals, Luostarinmäki was eventually preserved as a protected site, and the Turku City Council approved the decision to establish a museum zone in September 1937. 

The old buildings of Luostarinmäki require serious restoration before the museum can be opened. The aim was to restore 19th century style buildings from the 1930s, for example by exposing log walls under the wallpaper and restoring open stoves. Iria Salberg, a young master who worked in the museum in 1937, played an important role in the creation of the Luostarinmäki Crafts Museum, staying in the museum for more than 30 years and later became director of the Turku Historical Museum. Salberg used his experience as a researcher of folk culture and in cooperation with artisans and professionals created most of the workshops and residential complexes in Luostarinmäki. Salberg sought to present life in Luostarinmäki as a whole, to give its inhabitants a positive and vivid image, without intimidating or hiding the rigours of everyday life. The various professional groups and the old masters who represented them participated in the creation of the workshops, donating artifacts and money, and providing their knowledge. The masters who were happy to cooperate also promised to come to the workshops to work when needed, and many kept their promise for the rest of their lives. Hence the annual Crafts Days in the museum. 

When museum activities started, there were still inhabitants of Luostarinmäki. They were allowed to live free of charge, but they were obliged to perform, for example, duties of caretakers in the area. Some such dwellings have since been entered into museums and left as they were after the death of their original inhabitants. This is the case, for example, of the Kanervo Brothers and Sisters House, whose museum was opened in 1965 after the death of its last occupant. It represents the housing culture of the late 1950s as a coexistence with museum activities. The family who owned the house has lived in Luostarinmäki since 1798. On the other hand, the youngest interior of the museum was owned by a working woman who lived in her apartment with a room and toilet from 1962 until her death in 1982, since then the room has remained untouched. 

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