The glory days of Turku Castle ended in the late 17th century, but the luxurious lifestyle continued among the elite few. This exhibition features over 600 objects and nearly 200 pieces of clothing and accessories, such as hats, shoes and fans from the Museum Centre of Turku’s own collections. The objects and clothes on display offer glimpses into 17th–19th century gentry culture from different perspectives.
The range of objects and materials on display is dazzling; glowing silks, soft velvet, shiny porcelain, gleaming glass, and shimmering jewellery, gold and silver items compete in radiance. The exhibition offers insights into changes in fashion and style, desired novelties and customs. In addition to this, the servants and skilled craftsmen who enabled the life of luxury are also an integral part of the display. The display includes a sizeable collection of items made by Turku-based goldsmiths, for example. The objects on display will be switched from time to time so as to highlight different objects from the collections and various viewpoints.
The gentry’s clothes and accessories represent the Museum Centre’s most notable collections. One of the rarest objects on display is a women’s riding jacket from the 1780s–1790s adorned with golden buttons. One of the exhibition’s most notable textile objects is a hand-woven, large wedding mat from 1734. This is the first time in nearly a hundred years that the wedding mat is put on display. The objects featured in the exhibition are all part of the Museum Centre’s collections, which have been managed since the founding of the museum in 1881. The objects have been collected from gentry and bourgeois homes and manors in Turku and Southwest Finland, among other places.
An exhibition space that meets modern museum requirements
As part of the post-World War II restoration of Turku Castle, the castle’s nearly 60-metre-long attic space was converted into an exhibition hall for the display of the museum’s collections. At the time, the exhibition hall’s architectural design was done by architect Erik Bryggman and the display cases were designed by interior architect Carin Bryggman.
The current renewal of the exhibition space was carried out with respect for the spirit of the hall while modernising it for modern exhibition needs. The original display cases were reupholstered and fitted with modern exhibition lighting, while the display cases for outfits were fitted with non-reflective glass panels. The informative content of the exhibition was also expanded, and all the information is now available in Finnish, Swedish and English.
The three-year renewal of the exhibition hall is a continuation of the renewal of Turku Castle’s permanent exhibitions, which began in 2011. The previous exhibition renewal in the Northern Exhibition Hall was carried out in the 1990s.
Objects also available for viewing on Finna
The objects on display in the Northern Exhibition Hall can also be viewed in the Finna online service and prepared set of exhibition highlights is to be seen here. The collection numbers of all the objects on display are provided in the exhibition.
Lectures and guided tours related to the exhibition will be organised later in the autumn.
Photo: Women’s cap, silk with woven floral motif, lined with linen, late 18th century, Finland. Photo TMK / Ville Mäkilä.