Jyväskylä University Museum

From Ethnological Museum to Teaching Museum of Museology


Whalebones, seal's whiskers and "ancient scraps"
The Seminaarinmäki Hill in Jyväskylä has housed museum activities for already a hundred years. In fact, the beginning of the museum's collections can be dated to the 1860s. The Jyväskylä Teacher Seminary the first Finnish training institute for elementary school teachers, was established in 1863, and started to collect didactic specimens. The items were inscribed in the college's inventory. The oldest recorded articles include e.g. African spearheads, ancient Roman "scraps", and eared seal's whiskers. The collection also comprised seashells, rocks and stuffed birds which Uno Cygnaeus, the founder of the seminary, had brought from his trip to Alaska. Amazonia farinosa
Yrjö Blomstedt Building up the Finnish Nation
Lecturer of handicraft and drawing at the Jyväskylä Teacher Seminary Architect Yrjö Blomstedt, put forward the idea of a school museum. In his opinion, handicrafts should be made "in a spirit of nationalism", and old Finnish craft provided a good model. For this reason he regarded it necessary to establish an ethnographical museum at the seminary. Blomstedt encouraged the students to collect items which would illustrate the life of the people, both in former times and at present. The distinctive features of the Finnish tradition needed to be preserved for the foundation of future culture. Tankards, collars, weavings and wooden dishes soon found their way into the ethnological collections of the students, which eventually amounted to 2 500 objects.

The First Museum in Jyväskylä is Founded
The accumulation of exhibits resulted in the founding of the museum on September 7, 1900. It was officially named "The Collegiate Ethnological Museum at the Jyväskylä Teacher Seminary". Students were in charge of its administration. In order to promote the active collecting of museum pieces, they were awarded scholarships and prizes for the best objects. By the end of the year 1910, there were 1288 exhibits in the museum. The museum acquired its own facilities in 1905, when the building for handicraft and drawing, designed by Yrjö Blomstedt, was completed. The building is currently known as Villa Rana, and it reflects Blomstedt's notion of art education; namely that drawing, handicraft and the museum-movement should form an integrated whole. The seminary's carpentry workshop situated upstairs, and the drawing class and the museum on the floor below. Also the traditional rune singers who visited the seminary performed there at Yrjö Blomstedt's request. Yrjö Blomstedt with rune singers

Uno Cygnaeus' study Devout Advocates of the Museum
Toivo Ojala, lecturer of drawing and handicraft, was elected chairman of the museum committee in the mid-1920s. During his chairmanship the collections were rearranged in thematic order, following the example of the National Museum. The furniture of the study of Uno Cygnaeus, which was donated to the museum in 1932, was added to the collections and put on display. The renovated museum created a sensation, and the press praised it as the best school museum in the Nordic countries. When the Teacher Seminary closed down, the collections became the property of the subsequent College of Education. They were still used in teaching, and in the activities of provincial clubs. After Ojala's term, the museum was directed by Ethnologist Ahti Rytkönen, who was a lecturer at the College of Education.


Museum of the College of Education
As the college expanded at the late 1950s, the museum needed to take a new direction. Professor Mauno Jokipii drew up a general plan for the development of the museum. On his initiative, the ethnological and numismatic collections were deposited in the Museum of Central Finland. The Museum at the College of Education concentrated on recording the history of the educational institution under which it functioned. The permanent exhibition was opened on the ground floor of the old assembly hall building (the present Seminarium ). By the mid-1960s, the Museum of the College of Education had attained the principal prerequisites of a modern museum. It had a basic exhibition, storage facilities, collections which were systematically organized and catalogued, and photo archives.


Teaching Museum of Museology
When the College of Education became a University , the museum also received the status of university museum. In 1980, it was divided into two separate departments: the Section of Cultural History and the Section of Natural Sciences. Over the decades, the Jyväskylä University Museum has evolved from an ethnological collection maintained by seminary students into a museum which presents the history, functioning, and the general cultural scene of the academic community. The museum which Blomstedt founded for educational purposes still has an important educational role. It functions as a training post for museology; a teaching museum where students can receive practical training in museum work.


Jyväskylä University Museum