New Museum Plans for Turku’s Great Fire Anniversary

Turku looks to teach historical lessons of Great Fire with high tech museum, 190 years after it started

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A commemorative stone marks the site where the Great Fire of Turku started / Credit: Visit Turku

Today marks the 190th anniversary of the Great Fire of Turku, one of Finland’s most defining historical moments.

The fire started on the evening of September 4th 1827, and by the next day had destroyed 75% of the city. The rapid spread was due to wooden building materials commonly used at that time, dry summer weather, and a storm.

Eleven thousand people were left homeless, 27 people killed, and hundreds more wounded in the blaze.

But now the City of Turku is hoping to have a permanent museum exhibition to the Great Fire. Funds have already been promised, and work has begun to find a suitable location.

“It’s not yet decided if it will be an architectural competition, or we will use an old building here” Olli Immonen, head of Turku Museums tells News Now Finland.

In 2011 a multimedia exhibition about the Great Fire of Turku sparked the imagination of visitors, and Immonen’s team hope to reignite similar excitement with their new exhibit.

“Of course we bring the Great Fire of Turku to our customers with guided tours” explains Immonen.

“Some of our buildings are pre-fire, like the Pharmacy Museum, and the Handicrafts Museum. When we have visitors in these museums we tell them these were the buildings we had in Turku before the fire. So in that kind of context we bring the fire to our museum education”.

The new Turku museum would plan to take advantage of modern technology in its exhibits as well.

“Museum technology changes with virtual reality and things like that, and we need to work in a new way. But the idea would be to show how the fire moved through the city of Turku, and what it means, its importance for the city’s history” says Immonen.