Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Uniquely Technical - The Museum of Technology

We found Tekniikan Museo / The Museum of Technology by default when the Helsinki City Museum was temporarily damaged by 3 days of torrential rain shortly after reopening. I'm eager to go see the City Museum as it contains the Children's Town which our kids loved before, so will hopefully have a review of that soon.

The rain also made our visit to the Technology Museum a bit more exciting as it is built on an island used to house a hydro-electric plant, so there are big waterfalls to watch which were a highlight for the kids because of the flooding.

Part of the museum, which stretches over several buildings on the island, is based around the former power station, so you can see filtration vats, and kids (of all ages) can turn knobs and push levers. There are paper guides for these sections and in some buildings staff who are very helpful. You climb a bridge over the waterfalls and see the water flow below the building.

The main building is totally dedicated to more modern Finnish technology and packs in a lot of information in its permanent exhibitions from coal mining and forestry to more laboratory-based technologies. There was a temporary exhibit on the Finnish elevator manufacturing company Kone which had an old elevator the kids could go up and down in.

My only complaint with the museum is that the permanent exhibits explanations were only in Finnish which meant we could talk briefly to the kids about the various subject but couldn't give them enough detail or info about what was going on. There are guided tours in English available and the temporary exhibits are in English, Swedish and Finnish.

The museum won points with our family as it is currently free of charge due to it being revamped and parts are inaccessible. I hope updating the information boards to include English is part of the revamp, otherwise I could see us coming to the island again only to see the waterfalls, the old power plant buildings and to go to the great Koskenranta restaurant. It had a filling buffet and tons of pannukaku which are like Dutch babies. Foo must have had six servings.

The Museum of Technology was a nice surprise. It's not mentioned much in Helsinki tourist information, so we only found it because I dug a bit to find something new for us to do. Helsinki is full of museums, some small and obscure (the Museum of Hotels and Restaurants for example), others much bigger and totally worth taking the family to. The Tekniikan Museo falls in between. It has an idyllic and interesting setting, some cool machinery and technology to learn about and play with but it is focussed toward the Finnish tourist and tries to fit in almost too many subjects without a real focus. The kids found the main modern technology building a bit overwhelming and didn't really spend much time on the exhibits, not helped by the fact that we couldn't explain so much to them. Thank goodness for the Angry Birds pit.

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