Written by Johanna Nylund and Sofia Paasikivi
With the feeling of running out of time, we were multitasking and creating the visual world for the exhibition by making posters, ads, invitations and, most importantly, choosing the main colour theme of the exhibition. To add to the experience of visiting the exhibition, we also wanted to create a certain ambience with the aid of sounds. After considering different choices, we picked nature sounds, such as birds, wind and the sound of running water, as the Aura River runs near the Ristimäki site. We were also able to exhibit some of the archaeological findings from the field itself, some discovered as recently as 2015; some findings even came directly from the field to the exhibition, which is not a common practice when the research is still in progress. The exhibition opened on June 24th 2015 and ran till August 16th 2015. Even though the exhibition was executed with a tight schedule and limited resources, we were happy with the results.
This year’s excavations at Ristimäki began during the final month of the exhibition. This brought a few new additions for the exhibition: we gave out maps to the site and took in enrollments for the two-week long public excavations. We also passed out information of other activities at the excavation area. After seeing the exhibition, many people visited the excavation site and had a guided tour there or took part in the excavations as volunteers. Other exhibition-visitors had already been at the excavations and visited the exhibition to learn about the work done in earlier years. Getting people interested in both, the excavations and the exhibition, was one of our main goals, as public archaeology has played a significant role in the Ristimäki excavations since 2014.
Approximately 1500 people visited the exhibition during the summer. This number may seem small compared to the 4000 visitors of the excavation site in 2014, but it shows the difference between public’s interest in seeing “the real deal” or a mere exhibition of it. Also, the fast cycle of what is new and interesting is a big challenge to scientific research in cultural heritage and projects related to it. Public archaeology and community involvement in archaeological projects in this scale is fairly new in Finland, but as the funding for cultural heritage research is scarce, it is all the more important to educate people about the cultural heritage sites and about the research on them.
Ruohonen, Juha: Kirkollisen kulttuurin alkulähteillä. Kaarinan Ravattulan varhaiskeskiaikainen kirkko ja kirkkomaa (Historiallinen aikakausikirja, December 2013).
About the authors:
Johanna Nylund is a student of European Ethnology and archaeology at the University of Turku. Sofia Paasikivi is a student of cultural history and archaeology at the University of Turku.