The Helsinki City Museum whisks visitors away on a time-travelling expedition one hundred years into the past. The Time Machine makes the photographs of famous Helsinki photographer Signe Brander come to life
with a little bit of help from new technology. Time travellers can also visit the courtyards and streets of 1960s, 1970s and 1980s Helsinki. A new version, Time Machine 2.0, was opened on 14 April 2019.
Most of us have probably wished we could sneak a peek into the past to see how people used to live. Now, you can do exactly that and step onboard our Time Machine that whisks you away to visit a very lively and authentic Helsinki of a hundred years past. The Time Machine makes use of a number of technologies, including projection, sound, animation and 3D virtual technologies. Put on the goggles and go!
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of Signe Brander, a new 2.0 version has been created of the Time Machine virtual experience. The new Time Machine brings Signe Brander’s photographs to life with the help of VR technology to create an immersive and interactive spatial installation that takes visitors on a journey through Helsinki’s past. Time Machine 2.0 will whisk visitors away to early 20th-century Helsinki, where wooden houses are making way for a new city of stone castles. The new city is a mix of national romanticism, Art Nouveau and Nordic classicism – old traditions and new winds.
During Brander’s lifetime, Helsinki was for the first time visible from new vantage points, such as the National Museum’s tower. In addition to the bird’s-eye view, Brander also photographed panoramas at street level, capturing everyday details of urban life. Time Machine 2.0 shows projections based on Brander’s panorama photos of Kallio Church and St Nicholas’ Church (now Helsinki Cathedral). The VR content of Time Machine 2.0 is based on Brander’s photos of the public sauna on Mariankatu and the old Helsinki Railway Station.
Born on 15 April 1869, Brander photographed Helsinki and life in Helsinki at the beginning of the previous century, when she was hired by the Helsinki City Board of Antiquities to record the rapidly changing city. The 907 glass negatives produced by Brander between 1907 and 1913 are the basis of the City Museum’s collections.
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. In the Time Machine, Brander’s photos are 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.
Time Machine 2.0 was developed in collaboration with Teatime Research Oy as part of Demos Helsinki and Finnish Virtual Reality Association’s Virtual Reality Hubs project. Time Machine 2.0 was partially funded with the Finnish Heritage Agency’s grants for innovative projects by professional museums.