Due to open in May 2016, the brand new Helsinki City Museum will whisk visitors away on a time travelling expedition one hundred years into the past. We are building a Time Machine that will make the photographs of famous Helsinki photographer Signe Brander come to life with a little bit of help from the latest technology.
Most of us have probably wished we could sneak a peek into the past to see how people used to live. Now, with the opening of the brand new Helsinki City Museum, you can do exactly that and step onboard our Time Machine that will whisk you away to visit a very lively and authentic Helsinki, just as the city was a century ago.
When we carried out a survey and interviews to find out what point in time people would most like to travel back to, the early 20th century was the overwhelming favourite. Accordingly, we have chosen the early 1900s as our first ever Time Machine era. It was around that time that the Helsinki Board of Antiquities hired Signe Brander, a photographer, to capture images of the city that, by then, was in a state of great flux. The 907 glass negatives she shot between 1907 and 1913 form the basis of the Helsinki City Museum collection.
Brander turned her lens to record the wood-built Helsinki that by then was already giving way to new methods of housebuilding, the city’s glorious Jugend tenements as well as the everyday lives of ordinary people as she witnessed them on the city’s streets and in private. She photographed everyone – from the washerwomen with their scarved heads and the stylish upper class ladies to the workers, the coachmen, the police, the horses, and especially the children. As the Time Machine opens its doors in May, Brander’s photos will be given a brand new treatment that allows our visitors to step out on to Helsinki’s cobbled streets and mingle with the city’s residents of yesteryear.
The software company Futurice brings its experience of service design and the latest technological solutions as a partner in the Time Machine project. The aim is to create an experience that excels even by international standards. The Time Machine will make use of a number of technologies, including projection, sound, animation and 3D virtual technologies. Time travel is available both throughout the museum and through virtual reality equipment. Importantly, the machinery and technology will be given a supporting role only and what really matters are the people, their memories and their connection with the past.
The new museum is being created in collaboration with Helsinki’s residents. The people of Helsinki have also been contributing to the design of the new Time Machine since spring 2015 through questionnaires, interviews and discussion events. In October 2015, visitors were able to try out the time machine prototypes and test a variety of 3D technologies as part of our Back to the future event.