The hour-long art history walks started in 2000, when students of the field wanted to show off their unique University while gaining work experience. Since then, the guided tours have been organised every year, and this summer there were a total of approximately 90 of them, held in three different languages.
The tours introduce the audience to the finest sights on the campuses free of charge.
“Most University buildings are open to all, but many are hesitant to enter unless accompanied by a guide,” says Hanna Kivelä, this year’s tour coordinator. She chose this summer’s destinations and organised the tours.
Tours of the Main Building and the Old Student House are the most popular. Visitors are also interested in the newer architecture on campus.
“We have some highly unique buildings, as almost all of them were designed specifically for the University of Helsinki,” explains Anni Mäkilammi, who guided her first tours this summer. Her tours include the Kumpula Campus and its points of interest.
A piece of history
As the art history walks guide visitors through the University of Helsinki’s facilities, they also delve into university life and the history of Helsinki.
For example, a sculpture collection walk through the Main Building teaches participants about how the University acquired the plaster sculptures and what art collecting was like in the 19th century. Visitors can peer into a time when Carl Gustaf Estlander, the enthusiastic professor of aesthetics and new literature, was just getting the collection started, and no art exhibitions had yet been organised in Finland.
The turbulent years of Finnish history are also included in the guided tours, e.g., in the form of the relief Vapauden jumalatar seppelöi nuoruuden.
“It was damaged when a bomb hit the University’s Great Hall in 1944,” Mäkilammi explains.
After the tour, the campuses and the city itself look a little different. Particularly if you remember to look up every once in a while, as Kivelä recommends her tour participants do.