Sarka is a national museum of agriculture situated in Loimaa, South-Western Finland. The Museum preserves the history of agriculture and rural life and shows the history of finnish agriculture in a modern, versatile and interesting way. The opening of Sarka was preceeded by years of work and political activity from the local heritage activists. A new building was erected for the Museum and the exhibition was opened in June 2005 . Sarka museum and its restaurant have a total of about 80,000 visitors a year.
In 2021 Sarka was awarded Museum of The Year in Finland by the Finnish Museums Association and ICOM Finland. The Museum of the Year is awarded to a museum that has made a significant contribution to the social visibility and impact of the museum sector or museum activities in its area of operation. The activities of the museum bring new or different perspectives, ideas and thoughts to the museum sector. The Museum of the Year award can be a recognition of achievements related to collections, exhibitions or museum pedagogy, or other innovative activities.
Sarka is a regionally and nationally important museum that brings people together. Even the slightly challenging location of the Museum is not an obstacle to the museum's insightful pedagogical activities, as the Museum's guided virtual tours reach the whole of Finland. The Museum is actively tackling current phenomena: exhibitions have addressed climate change, among other things. The Museum also annually awards people, groups or organisation who have positively highlighted agriculture.
Versatile collections and permanent exhibitions
Museum collections consist of approximately 27 000 objects; artefacts, photographs and documents. Research made from these collections is mainly related to the exhibition work, but also articles and presentations are given every year by the personnel. Sarka is known for its extensive collection project 2016 - 2020. The Helsinki University Agriculture Museum had a large collection of tools, implements, vessels, containers and other objects. This collection was created already during the 18th and early 19th centuries by professor Gösta Grotenfelt and it consists of very archaic tools used for several hundreds of years in different parts of Finland. Unfortunately, water damage occurred in the Helsinki University Agriculture Museum's collection storage in 2016. The collection suffered severe damage and was in danger of being destroyed. After great rescue work the collection was saved and donated to Sarka.
The Sarka Museum’s newest permanent exhibition Before Machines is based on this salvaged collection. The exhibition displays the farm work and related tools and implements of the era before agricultural machinery. It was opened in 2019. Tools, implements, vessels, containers and other objects introduce visitors to the stages of slash-and-burn and arable farming from ploughing to harvesting. Along with work in the fields, the exhibition presents animal husbandry, work in the farmhouse and the farmyard and the auxiliary livelihoods of hunting, fishing, forestry and various handicrafts. This exhibition has been designed to be an environment that is accessible to everyone. Special needs of different groups, for example people with memory or physical disabilities, have been taken into account.
Sarka has two other main exhibitions. The Age of Agriculture - The Story of Farming tells the long term history of Finnish agriculture. Agriculture and its environments have evolved over the millennia, and agriculture itself has created changes in its setting. This exhibition is a journey through the three-thousand-year history of farming in Finland. Important themes at the exhibition are for example the impact that agriculture has had on the environment at different times and of course the turning points in agricultural history. Additionally there is a separate hall with a permanent exhibition of tractors and other farming machinery. We are renewing this exhibition and a new exhibition will be opened in 2023.
New topical exhibition every year!
At the main exhibition hall is a space reserved for temporary exhibitions. The displays are changed about once a year and they present a certain theme. The exhibition in 2020 had the title In Fair Weather – Agriculture, Climate and Weather. It was an exhibition on agriculture in changing climate and weather conditions – on reactions, adaptation and finding the best solutions. The exhibition presented among other things the history of weather and crop failures. The exhibition considered why is the warming of the climate a problem and can food be climate friendly. The 2021 annual exhibition Food made in factories presented the history of Finnish food products. Current annual exhibition Pastures in the past explores traditional biotopes and biodiversity. Traditional biotopes represent some of the most biodiverse habitats in Finland. Traditional biotopes were classified as endangered or critically endangered habitats in an assessment of threatened habitat types carried out in Finland in 2018.
Our two exhibitions are available also at Digimuseo.fi; digital service, which brings museum services to consumers regardless of time or place. The Age of Agriculture and Before Machines are available as free 360° virtual exhibitions, and guided tours are available as well. Schools in particular have been interested in these virtual exhibitions. Guided tours are arranged so that the pupils are in their classes at school and guides are at their own computer at Sarka, or wherever. These guided exhibition tours have been very popular. Altogether children are one of the most important target groups, and many special guided tours and workshops have been designed for them.
Sarka is a Food Museum
Sarka has developed the concept of a Food Museum. Food is a part of everyone’s daily life and this way the Museum has a chance to bring agriculture closer to people otherwise distanced from it. The Food Museum consists of events, exhibitions, guided tours, workshops and online content that approach the topic of food from different perspectives. The current global problems with climate change and food production have increased the need to consider and present also the effects of the choices we make in both consuming and producing food. The Finnish Museum of Agriculture wants to bring a historical perspective to the conversation.
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