“Vapriikki in Tampere is of this day: Fresh, broadly networked, multi-faceted, situated in the middle of the everyday life of the city’s inhabitants”.
Finland became an independent state in 1917 and a varied programme was created to celebrate the anniversary in 2017. Among them the Museum Centre Vapriikki had the great honour to receive the nomination of the Museum of the Century in Finland.
Vapriikki has become the most diverse museum centre in Finland offering activities for the whole family. It hosts about a dozen exhibitions at the same time on varying topics from history to natural sciences. All exhibitions can be accessed with one ticket. The concept of the museum centre was the first of its kind in Finland.
Vapriikki is the leading museum in Tampere. It houses the Natural History Museum of Tampere, the Mineral Museum and the Rupriikki Media Museum. There is naturally a museum restaurant and a museum shop at your service. The latest museum, the Finnish Museum of Games, was opened in January 2017. For the first time in Finland the museum was partly funded by crowdfunding campaign. The Game Museum is the result of an intense cooperation with game enthusiasts.
The Museum Centre Vapriikki has also attracted some other museums under its wings. We think that it speaks for itself about the museum´s reputation and appeal: the trustee-owned Postal Museum moved from Helsinki to Vapriikki, there is the trustee-owned Doll Museum and the Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame, owned by a private association.
A fresh example is the Birckala 1017 exhibition which depicts the life of a nearby Viking-era village based on recent archaeological discoveries. An extensive co-operation proceeded the Birckala exhibition.
Vapriikki also promotes discussion to deal with difficult social memories, such as the Finnish civil war a hundred years ago. The Tampere 1918 exhibition was first opened in 2008 and from the very early on received several high quality nominations such as the one from the EMYA. The exhibition was also invited to the Best in Heritage Conference as an example of a far reaching co-operation between the Tampere University and several other organizations, volunteer and political, related to the topic. Tampere 1918 was reopened in January 2018 to commemorate the anniversary of the civil war and even now, the exhibition, our collections and researchers behind the exhibition have been noted at the national level.
The main issue of the international exhibitions at Vapriikki is the demand of a high quality to exhibit phenomena from all over the world. The City of Tampere wants to invest in the cultural sector and thus gives the backbone support to the financial risks taken by Vapriikki.
Pioneering co-operation has been made with for instance the Beijing Palace Museum, Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (the Kunstkamera) and the British Museum. Results have been dashing exhibitions like: The Forbidden City - Life in the Imperial Court of China (2017), Terracotta - The Army and Treasures of the Chinese Emperors (2013) or The Giants of Ice Age (2016).
Vapriikki creates wellbeing. There are activities organised by the museum for all age groups. Since 2008 members of the Musti childrens’ club have met monthly and the children have learned different aspects of the museum work – and hopefully had a lot of fun as well. Schools are naturally a very important target group. There can be as many as 450 guided tours for schools in a year.
The museum has to earn a part of the money one needs. The income is collected by renting out the auditorium, meeting rooms, sauna or the restaurant that has seen all kinds of get-togethers, from children´s birthdays, evening dress festivities to wedding receptions. Facilities are available for hire for private events, meetings and seminars. The entrance fees are, naturally, an important source as well.
There are some 300 events yearly in Vapriikki to educate and entertain one´s leisure time. The events are open to everyone and they are segmented to all age groups. There are very popular lecture series, Children´s Sundays, workshops, game sessions. There has also been a speed dating event, wine tasting, Christmas and Easter events, doll house fairs and Vapriikki Vintage weekends that in November 2018 will be based on an exhibition on the iconic Marilyn Monroe and thus the 1950s. The amount of guests attending these events varies yearly from 15 000 to more than 20 000.
The press coverage of Vapriikki is convincing, some 100 hits in a month. Half of them come from the events organised by the museum. Most of the museum´s publicity come from the press hits not by the advertisements, paid by the museum.
Vapriikki is the City Museum of Tampere and also the leading museum of the province. It is therefore also our pride, duty and privilege to show our own collections (more than 370 000 items and 1,7 million photographs). Vapriikki has been in the frontline in creating digital access to museum artefacts and photographs in expanding the database (siiri.tampere.fi). It is, in fact the most comprehensive database in Finland.
We are very proud of having opened the very first Collections´ Centre in Finland in 2012 that houses collections not only from Vapriikki, Tampere Art Museum but also from other museums as well. It is also a first class unit for many kinds of museum professionals and specialists. It also hires storage space to other museums.
Vapriikki was the very first museum in Finland that donated the museum´s Sámi collections to the Sámi Museum in 2015. This was a kind of a homecoming event to the Sámi community.
From the Origins to the Next Century
The creation of Vapriikki was the result of coincidences and a change in society in the late 1980s. Tampere Museum of Technology had a fire in 1989. At the same time Finland was experiencing a deep economic crisis and the structural change emptied old industrial premises. It required courage by the City of Tampere to invest in culture then and open up the closed factory area.
Vapriikki is housed in what used to be the engineering works of Tampella Ltd. on the banks of the Tammerkoski Rapids. The first exhibition was opened at Vapriikki in 1996. In 1999-2000 Finland chaired the European Union for the first time and many of the meetings at the ministerial level took place in Vapriikki.
Since 1996 there has been socially important, appealing, interesting and entertaining exhibitions in Vapriikki. In 2018 the museum´s record was made by receiving more visitors than ever. In fact the number (206 000) would be outstanding also in the capital area, not to mention outside Helsinki. We hope, however, that this is only the beginning of another successful century for the Museum Centre Vapriikki in Tampere.
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