Helsinki City Museum turns into an immersive gym
Expect gym tights, sweatpants, weights, palm trees and the smell of sweat – if not real at least imaginary – as the Helsinki City Museum turns into an immersive gym. While encouraging city residents to exercise and take care of their bodies, the Your Body – The Sweaty History of Gyms exhibition is also the story of gym lovers.
The exhibition space on the fourth floor of the Helsinki City Museum presents perspectives on urban culture. Now the space has been transformed into a gym with an 80s and 90s feel. Your Body – The Sweaty History of Gyms tells the story of gyms and gym lovers in Helsinki. The exhibition allows competitive bodybuilders, powerlifters, fitness athletes and fitness amateurs explain what makes them tick and why they go to a gym or group exercise classes.
Finland’s first gyms in the early 20th century were mainly intended for wrestlers, gymnasts and athletes. Today, gyms are places of exercise where everyone can become fit or maintain their physical condition. Exercise brings joy and health, but the exhibition does not shirk from difficult topics related to bodybuilding and shaping one’s body either. The exhibition covers themes that evoke strong emotions, such as your own appearance and that of others, being watched and what it means, body positivity, beauty and health. These themes are approached from the perspective of both history and the present.
“We want to offer an unforgettable exhibition where you can try out actual gym equipment or gymnastics from the 80s, or just enjoy the culture and exercise without breaking a sweat. We have also compiled a Spotify playlist for home workouts based on the exhibition so that everyone can warm up at their own pace,” explains Jari Harju, Helsinki City Museum Head of Audience Services.
Your Body – The Sweaty History of Gyms features events attended by musician Kärtsy Hatakka and TV fitness instructor Donata Pennanen, among others. On Thursday 23 November, the exhibition will be transformed into an amazing workout as two red-faced gym-goers from Race Horse Company will pump up their muscles with the gym equipment as part of the Come and experience 6 museums event from 17:00 to 22:00. Admission to the exhibition and all events is free.
The exhibition was designed by Tuomas Siitonen and Päivi Roivainen from Good Kombo. The exhibition is produced by City Museum Lecturer Sauli Seppälä, Head of Unit Jari Harju and graphic designer Tero Juuti.
Your Body – The Sweaty History of Gyms
10 November–24 February 2024
Helsinki City Museum, 4th floor
Open: Mon-Fri at 11:00–19:00, Sat-Sun at 11:00–17:00
The picture shows a view of the Your Body exhibition, where you can also sweat.
Photo: Maija Astikainen / Helsinki City Museum