Interconnected nature: Sámi culture on show
By Ester Laiho | Photos: Siida
Sámi Museum and Nature Centre Siida has showcased the history and culture of the Sámi of Finland together with northern nature for over 20 years. The museum has gone through extensive renovations as well as an expansion, and is ready to welcome new visitors this June.
The new space is accompanied by a new main exhibition, Enâmeh láá mii párnáh – These Lands Are Our Children, which will bring together the topics of nature and culture. The name comes from an Inari Sámi poem written by Matti Morottaja, exploring the same themes. These Lands Are Our Children replaces the acclaimed previous exhibition, which drew an audience of over one million people.
Despite the many changes, visitors can be assured the Open-Air Museum has not gone anywhere. The Open-Air Museum, located in the oldest part of the museum complex, was built in 1963 – making it the oldest Sámi museum in the world. Here, a modern, lighted walkway takes you on a journey through time, exploring the culture, architecture and livelihoods of Finland’s three Sámi cultures.
Minna Muurahainen, the head of sales and marketing for Siida is looking forward to the summer and wants to welcome visitors from near and far: “We might have new improved spaces to accommodate for more displays and visitors, but our mission to welcome people with open arms hasn’t changed. We wanted to keep an intimate and approachable atmosphere.”
Repatriated artefacts displayed for the first time
Another enticing aspect of Siida’s new offering is the repatriation of Sámi artefacts from the Finnish National Museum. In total, the Finnish National Museum has returned 2,200 objects to Sámi Museum Siida. To these artefacts, the people of Siida have applied the same rigorous research and respect as to those already on display, with the aim of learning about their origins and identifying people when possible. The research has extended to reaching out to the Sámi communities to ask their opinion on what objects to display to best represent their culture.
Muurahainen also explains how they have chosen to explore some potentially sensitive topics to remove stigma and to embrace the current and future culture, while honouring the past: “Birgen means surviving in Northern Sámi and this is a term that lends itself to many areas of Sámi culture. For us it also means thriving: taking pride in traditional Sámi clothes and languages in 2022.”
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