From private collections to the local arts-and-crafts museum

Kuva: K. Vesteri

After the Second World War, a strong sense of pride in local history arose. Many local area societies were set up and their goal was to preserve the spiritual and material heritage of the area for future generations. In practice, this mostly meant preservation of the material heritage through collecting and preserving tools and everyday items; as work methods changed, many old implements went out of use.

Inspired by the local area movement, a local area society was also founded in Jämsä in the year 1947 and the decision to build an open-air museum was made in the same year. The society began the systematic collecting of old objects. In addition to Jämsä, Jämsänkoski and Koskenpää were also part of this local area society of old Jämsä. In 1949, Jämsänkoski and Koskenpää left the local area society and the name was changed to Jämsän kotiseutuyhdistys (Jämsä local area society).

In Sammalniemi, the collection had already been started in the 1930s by Kalle Isännäinen, who especially collected horse-drawn carts and carriages. Most of the work in this area was done by Kalle Niemelä, who collected thousands of individual objects and recorded old work methods in books he wrote by hand. H.J.Veijonen was also known for his collecting, and he donated the first granary and the collection he kept in it to the museum. One of the significant donors was also the lay member of the administrative court, Armas Raitio, and his wife. Toward the end of the 1940s, a discussion was started about a museum building, which would allow for the storage and display of the large amount of collected artefacts.

It was decided that the museum would be built in Pälämäki, which is situated on a hill between the Jämsäjoki river and the Vaheri road. There has been settlement in the area since prehistoric times. The land is leased from the Christian Folk High School of Jämsä. The museum was inaugurated in 1950 and it belonged to the local area society until the beginning of the 1970s, when it was transferred over to the city of Jämsä.

The choice of the location for the museum was greatly influenced by the folk high school's headmistress at the time, Aino Järveläinen. The idea was that the museum's operation in the following years would be best ensured in the vicinity of the folk high school.

Typical of the Jämsä area were large farms with several attached crofts. In the beginning of the 20th century about 80 % of farms were crofter's farms. Some of them were reasonably wealthy, with 10-15 hectares of fields and for example the Ala-Lepola croft, which has been moved to Pälämäki, is known to have had a hired hand and a maid.

Buildings that demonstrate life on a middle-class farm at the end of the 19th century have been moved to the open-air museum of Pälämäki. Some of the buildings are from the 18th century, but some artefacts originate from a later period.

All nine buildings in the area were moved to Pälämäki by the beginning of the 1960s from the old Greater Jämsä area.

Kuva: K. VesteriIn the year 1950 the society bought the main building from the old Ala-Lepola croft and it was decided to move it as a community effort to the Pälämäki hill to serve as the main building of the museum. The museum was opened to the public during the same year. From the beginning the museum's operation was based on the community effort of people dedicated to the cause.

Pälämäki is a good example of the strong sense of pride in local history that arose after the Second World War. Like the local area researcher and Pälämäki handyman Kalle Nieminen said: "Artefacts are not to be lost. They keep the past more alive than memory alone."

Copy and pictures: Kyllikki Vesteri