A Finnish view of the National Museum of Scotland

I had the chance to stay at the National Museum of Scotland for one week in mid-March as part of a European Erasmus+ program. The aim of my stay was to get to know the exhibitions and learning programs in order to develop my home museum, the Museum of Technology in Helsinki, Finland, where I work as Head of Exhibitions and Learning.

Jewellery making workshop

I tried my hand at making jewellery from metal cord.
I tried my hand at making jewellery from metal cord.

I was hosted by the Science and Technology department and, besides meeting wonderful and inspiring people from different departments, I got to sing “twinkle, twinkle little star” on the Magic Carpet with other parents and carers (should have brought my own toddler on this trip!), dance in the silent disco at the Museum Late and make beautiful jewellery at the Making It session for adults.

Collections and audiences

I was impressed by the beautiful building and the well-researched and interactive galleries, as well as the attention to detail in everything. I felt that the two most important things were indeed put first: the collections and the audience. The collections and exhibitions were linked to different learning programs and I especially appreciated the fact that visitors were invited to search the collections online whether in the galleries or booking a place for the Making It workshop.

I guess only other exhibitions professionals take pictures of labels and signs instead of objects when visiting museums!

The staff, visitor services, signs and the whole of the museum made me feel welcome as a visitor, and the feeling of the National Museum of Scotland being a place for people and sharing is something I wish my museum’s visitors get as well, instead of an experience of an institution distanced from its visitors.

Scotland to Finland, Finland to Scotland

I was delighted to find a comrade to the Edison electric light dynamo of my museum, mounted in 1882 at the Finlayson mill in Tampere. The cotton mill was founded by a Scotsman, James Finlayson in 1820. Eventually Finlayson gave up on his dream of making a fortune in Finland and returned to Scotland, dying in Edinburgh in 1852. After being sold, the Finlayson mill became successful and is today a distinguished Finnish textile design company. James Finlayson is considered as the founder of the Finnish cotton industry.

Edison electric light dynamo No. 34 at the Energise gallery in the National Museum of Scotland and Edison dynamo No. 88 at the Museum of Technology, in storage waiting to be displayed at the Land of Technology, a new permanent gallery to be opened at the Museum of Technology in October 2017.

Besides familiar objects, we at the Museum of Technology share the same passion for preserving and communicating the cultural and in our case technological heritage with as wide an audience as possible. I want to thank all my hosts for my stay and congratulate the whole museum on work well done!

You can find out more about Tekniikan museo, the Museum of Technology in Finland here.

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