The Helsinki City Art Museum’s main summer exhibition at its Meilahti galleries begins inside the museum as a fantastic exhibition of over 300 works of art, and continues in the surrounding park as a lush garden created by gardening professionals. The exhibition winds through floral splendour, harvest and various themes from the Garden of Eden to the garden of death and the miracle of rebirth. This rich and extraordinary exhibition comprises some 100 works of art and design from the Helsinki City Art Museum’s own collections and borrowed works from Finnish and foreign museums and collections from the 17th century to the present.
The exhibition begins with the first garden of gardens, the Garden of Eden. The paradisal garden motifs of Islamic art are shown alongside the homely Adams and Eves of Finnish naive artists. The gardens that come after the Fall of Man are shown as the cradle of hard work, joy and pleasure alike. The principal role is naturally played by richly coloured works depicting floral splendour and the celebration of the harvest and fertility. On the other hand, art that tells the story of the inescapable withering and death of gardens also plays an important part. All gardens contain the seed of new life, however, and are reborn every spring. Garden of Eden branches out deliberately to introduce as many views on the gardens of art and artists as possible, offering brilliant flowers on porcelain dinnerware and canvas and the Tree of Knowledge on a cabinet door and in a print.
The flourishing flowers and the Gates of Paradise lead the visitor to the museum’s park, a garden overflowing with brilliant plant life. Created with the expertise of the Green Area Division of the Public Works Department of the City of Helsinki, the Association of Useful Plants, Backaksen Puutarhakeskus and the Puutarhaliitto, the garden is a wonderful source of ideas for home gardens or balconies, with traditional and innovative suggestions for floral groups, allotments, greenhouses and even composting and growing herbs. The garden is the perfect venue for summer picnics and an excellent stage for the varied programme of the exhibition. There are also the trailer of Secrets and Kiddie Land that grows in the shape of a butterfly and a snake, which offer lots of fun for children.
A richly illustrated book will be published by Minerva Kustannus in conjunction with the exhibition. It includes articles by Berndt Arell, Tarja Halonen, Marika Hausen, Jaakko Heinimäki, Leena Hämet-Ahti, Kaj Kalin, Väinö Kirstinä, Eeva Ruoff and Irma Savolainen. An activity sheet is available for children. The principal partner in the exhibition is HOK-Elanto. Other partners are the Green Area Division of the Public Works Department of the City of Helsinki, the Association of Useful Plants, Backaksen Puutarhakeskus and the Kotipuutarha magazine, and Kekkilä Oyj, Casanna Oy, Monena Oy, Viheraitta Oy and Markkinointi-Tihveräinen Oy.
Guided tours: Guided tours free of charge in Finnish on Wednesdays at 17 o’clock and on Sundays at 14 o’clock, and in Swedish on the second Sunday of every month at 13 o’clock. To book a private tour at another time or in another language, please call tel. +358 9 310 87003. A separate brochure is available on the additional programme.