In the beginning there were three curators from Satakunta Museum that in May 2018 attended the yearly highlight for museums in Finland, the Museum Gala. As they were watching awarded museums celebrating prizes, they decided that the following year would be their year in the spotlight – they set a goal to be the next museum of the year in Finland. Not very many believed that this really could happen, as Satakunta Museum was a middle size traditional museum with limited resources and no specially funded projects at the time. But sometimes miracles do happen! Of course, the award was not because of what happened during that one year – far from it – but that decision made one spring night tells us that sometimes you just have to reach for the unreachable in order to achieve a goal.
Satakunta Museum is the provincial museum of the Satakunta region located in Pori, South West Finland. The Museum was founded in 1888 and it is one of the oldest museums in Finland. Satakunta is one of the historical provinces in Finland with a rich prehistory and a large number of historical sites and cultural environments including two World Heritage sites. The population of the region is about 224 000 and unfortunately that number is not growing but diminishing – as is the case in quite a few regions in Finland, many residents are moving to the outskirts of Helsinki, often because of better work possibilities. Satakunta Museum is maintained by the city of Pori, although the state provides statutory state aid. In the Finnish museum scene Satakunta Museum is considered a middle sized museum with a personnel of 25 permanent workers.
The Museum has four different units. The Cultural Historical Museum Satakunnan Museo has the museum’s main permanent exhibition and large collections and archives, The Ark Nature Center introduces the unique coastal nature of Satakunta and Rosenlew Museum, presents and studies the industrial heritage of Satakunta region. In the Building and Preservation Center Toivo visitors can get advice on questions concerning the renovation and restoration of old buildings and experience what it was like to live in the wooden city of Pori during the 1950's. In addition, Satakunta Museum has regional responsibilities – the Museum serves as an expert and authority in matters related to the protection of the local cultural environment in the Satakunta region. The Museum also steers, supports and develops the region's local museums and heritage work. Together all the museum units provide comprehensive museum services for the whole region.
In May 2018 Satakunta Museum was named Museum of the Year 2019 in Finland. In their laudatory review the Jury especially mentioned the outstanding long-term regional work that the museum has practiced since the 1980’s. Satakunta Museum was described as a major societal actor that, with a professional and uncompromising attitude, works towards common goals. The Museum's networking skills and tight connections with the community were praised as well. Last but not least the Jury stated that the work that teh Building and Preservation Center Toivo does in advising and consulting those renovating and conserving old wooden houses is unique and commendable.
Compared to the number of permanent museum personnel the activities of Satakunta Museum are numerous and very variable. Versatile museum services are possible because of active networks and close co-operation with experts and partners from many different domains. In addition, the Museum’s curious mind and constant search for new perspectives carries on. However, the most valuable resource is well educated, flexible and highly motivated personnel, the Museum Staff.
During the past few years the number of events and activities that Satakunta Museum organizes has grown substantially. The objective of events is always educational: our aim is to share information and experiences about cultural heritage. In the year 2019 there were more than 100 different activities that the Museum offered. These include lectures and seminars that often have the same theme as the temporary exhibitions in some museum’s units at the time. There are also annual events that are already traditions for many visitors like Arts and Crafts Christmas Market every December or summer camps and vacation time workshops for children. Guided city walks are very popular – these are targeted both for tourists and residents and they have different themes like teh history of the city parks or traces of WWII in the town. Around All Saints Day the Museum leads guided walks through the Old Cemetery. These lanterns lit tours that end with a cup of hot drink from the Museum curator’s thermos are so popular that they are always fully booked. Satakunta Museum is also a learning environment. Close co-operation with the schools is constant and when planning temporary exhibitions schools’ needs are taken into consideration. Learning material for teachers are produced and the Museum has organized courses for upper secondary school students: for example The Time Of Shadows – a course introducing students to the war time life of the home front in Pori during the Second World War.
One significant factor behind Satakunta Museum’s success is the close connection to the community. In 2014 the Friends’ Society for Satakunta Museum was founded. The number of Museum Friends grew very fast and now there are over 400 Friends and volunteers. Museum Friends are of course keen museum visitors but many also want to take part in the variety of chores that the Museum offers. There have been helping hands available when the Museum needed help for digitizing large donations of photographs, extra supervisors for children’s workshops or just to sell coffee and hot dogs at outside events.
We at Satakunta Museum were celebrating the nomination last year. We have done many things right and achieved good results. However, we can clearly see that there is still a lot to do and therefore new goals have been set. We want to reach more people – the number of visitors in all museum units could be better. We also need to find new ways to interest wider audiences, for example teenagers and young adults. Totally new kinds of challenges are waiting for us in the future: The city of Pori is planning to establish a new cultural center ”The Treasure of Pori.” One of the main objectives of the new center is to provide a new kind of museum experience. ”The Treasure of Pori” will comprise an extension to the present Satakunta Museum, new facilities for the collections of the Satakunta Museum and Pori Art Museum, the Pori Children’s Culture Centre and spaces for other cultural activities. An essential part of the new center will be open museum storage, which allows the public to see behind the scenes and get access to museum objects that have been hidden for a very long time. The center will also comprise an information center that will make all the information resources of the museum more accessible.
In summary: The Museum of the Year 2019 in Finland is Satakunta Museum – a cultural historical museum with a long history, varied activities and strong connections to the surrounding community and region. Our strength is traditional museum work based on our good collections, educated staff and curious mind. We are ready for the future challenges, we are eager to try new possibilities and technical solutions but we are not afraid to praise old-fashioned, traditional museum work
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