Stundars is a large open-air museum in Solf village, Korsholm municipality, Ostrobothnia, Finland. The museum tells the stories of what life was like for the peasantry, craftsmen and lower social classes on the Swedish-speaking countryside, from Oravais in the north to Pörtom in the south, during the period of 1870-1920.
Once upon a time, there was a village. Yes, it isn’t really that long ago, that large parts of Ostrobothnia looked just like this. Small, grey cottages huddled up together on small, rocky hills, while a few red-painted farmhouses towered over them, windowsills gleaming white. Long stone walls enclosed the meagre cabbage patches, and from boggy meadows the sheep bell could be heard for miles in the flat, treeless landscape. Clothes on a line slapping in the wind, children laughing while playing catch between the hops and milkmaids gossiping while drinking coffee, leaning against a sun-warmed timber wall…
These cottages and sheds haven’t always been here. Once, Stundars was nothing more than a few small fields and meadows. They belonged to the vicarage in Solv village and were meant to support the priest. Between christenings and sermons, the priest himself probably walked with the plough behind his horse, the former sea floor sticking to his boots in heavy clumps of mud. Maybe he cursed the rocks that in uncountable numbers lay scattered in his field. Most of them was brought here during the end of the latest Ice Age, when the enormous inland ice carried gravel, rocks and boulders with it from the Swedish mountains. When the ice finally melted 10.500 years ago, all this had been pushed down by the heavy ice sheet and lay at least 250 meters down on the sea floor. But the earth’s crust immediately started to spring back, and due to the land uplift phenomenon, the first small hill on Stundars broke the water’s surface about a thousand years ago. The area where the parking lot is now dried up no more than five centuries ago.
If you would like to hear more about the history of this very spot, about the unique nature in Ostrobothnia and about the Finnish part of the High Coast/Kvarken Archipelago World Heritage Site, please listen to Stundars’ own episode in the Kvarken World Heritage Audio Guide.
Since the very first shed was moved to Stundars in the end of the 1930’s, so very much has happened here. This area has played the part of a theatre backdrop and it has been a huge party venue. There has been an active artisan’s village here and a versatile culture centre.
Crafts, traditional building maintenance and museum pedagogy Topp
Today, Stundars stands steadily like grandma’s footstool on three “legs”; as a centre for crafts, as an example of traditional building maintenance and as an inspirational and intriguing place to learn about the area’s past.
Every nook and cranny on and in the museum cottages are a testimony to what skilled hands could accomplish in the pre-industrial, rural society. The buildings here are an inspiration for modern house builders, restorers or curators. And every year, the museum village comes to life, when we arrange Artisan’s days. Then tin-smiths, weavers, brass founders and carpenters use the cottages and workshops as they were meant to be used. To crown all this, we communicate both buildings and the life that once was lived in them by our professional museum pedagogy, reaching up to 30.000 visitors of every age a year.
A 100 year old time capsule Topp
At Stundars, we want to show you what life could have been like in grandmother’s grandmothers time – an era that very few Ostrobothnians alive today have experienced first-hand. So much happened right before, during the time period of 1870 to 1920 that we tell you about. Right before, the greatest famine in centuries decimated the population and turned the society on its head. Steam engines and electricity were invented and spread all the way to this corner of the world. The Finnish elementary school taught all children to read, write and count. There was a great war in the world and a civil war right here, and Finland became an independent nation. Many emigrated to America, Canada, Australia and Africa, while others got a job in the new factories in Vaasa – and called home through the new telephone switchboard. All the while everyday life struggled on. Butter had to be churned and fences had to be mended, preventing the cows from getting into the brand-new berry bushes. There was gossip and romances, wakes and childbirth, “talko” and sauna – and dancing barefoot to a lone fiddle in the white, summer nights.
Come see where the Ostrobothnian forefathers slept, ate and laughed – how did they really fit in the short bunkbeds? Maybe we’ll have an old-time washing day when you visit, or maybe we’ve made coffee over the fire and you’ll get a cup? Or maybe you’d just like to stroll around the picturesque museum village in your own pace and maybe, just maybe hear the grey timber walls whispering of times gone by…?
At Your service Topp
Stundars open-air museum is a professionally manage museum with 6 full-time employees and another ten people as summer staff. At the same time, we are an association, Stundars rf, with an association board, committees, volunteers and members. The museum operation is financed by municipal funding from Korsholm municipality, by state funding, from project and development funding and from ticket sales. Here are our contact information and here you can read more about Stundars rf.