How We See the Finns?

Finland: A Hungarian Perspective 27/Jun/2009 - 1/May/2011
What factors have shaped and influenced how Hungarians have viewed the Finns from the late 19th century until today? What do we know of traditional Finnish culture, the Finnish-Hungarian relationship, or the products of leading Finnish companies? Do we have anything to learn from the paths the Finns have taken? What does the phenomenon known as the "Finnish miracle" entail? What are the reasons for it and how can they be explained?


How We See the Finns addresses the issue of tradition, acquainting the visitor both with how the Finns have viewed tradition over the years, and with how Finnish tradition is seen by Hungarians. Is tradition - or the lack thereof - the driving force in social organisation? What is the relationship between tradition and (post)modernism?

The key word is stereotype: the image formed by one people of the other and its relationship to the former's own self-image. The exhibition enlists several key concepts and phenomena to guide the visitor, as by an infinitely repeated pattern, through familiar ideas, interpreting and - often - re-interpreting them as it goes. The questions the exhibition seeks to answer are addressed through the topic of change: What do scientists have to say about the Finnish people and their culture; what does the "man on the street," or the Finn-aficionado see in them?

The exhibition begins by examining the question: "Why are the Finns so important to us, anyway?" Other topics touched upon include parallels in Finnish and Hungarian history, the Finnish-Hungarian relationship, Finno-Ugric kinship, the situation of East and West, attitudes toward minorities, and the transition from an agricultural to an industrial society.

In its next unit, the exhibition introduces the visitor to what Hungarians construe as "typically Finnish" through several select "stereotypical" examples. The topic is shaped by the notion, "out of the woods, and into civilisation," as this is the essence (if in simplified form) of the "Finnish miracle". Modernisation is accompanied by a close relationship to nature, while certain elements - sauna, mökki, sisu, etc. - are raised to symbolic status.

Curators: Zsuzsanna Szarvas (Head urator), Tímea Bata, Ágnes Kerezsi, Emese Szojka