The Burgher’s Home
Kristianinkatu 12 • • Free entry
27 Dec 2023–7 Jan 2024
Sneak in through the yellow gate and revel in the atmosphere of the 1860s in the oldest surviving wooden house in Helsinki.
At the Burgher’s House Museum, you can experience everyday life and living in a house of the bourgeois in the Kruununhaka district of the 1860s and 70s. The oldest wooden residential building in central Helsinki is decorated as the home of Alexander Wickholm’s family, who owned the house starting from 1859.
The family Wickholm was not wealthy, but they wanted to live in a respectable way, representative of their class status. Indeed, the tiny hall of the modest wooden house boasts a fashionable Biedermeier-style sofa and a handsome dresser desk from St. Petersburg, but there are also loaves of rye bread hanging from the ceiling in the kitchen and a butter churn in the corner.
The original belongings of the Wickholms, who lived in the house until 1896, were sold at auction from their estate long ago. The current decor of the house is a vision based on information from the estate inventory. Objects have been selected from the Helsinki City Museum’s collections to reflect what was typical of the time and social group.
The objects in the home are a carefully curated collection from different periods and of different styles. The smaller rooms and kitchen are furnished with items one could imagine were inherited by a young family or bought second-hand, whereas the largest room in the house, the hall, features elegant furniture typical of the time. They represent the standard of living achieved by the enterprising Alexander Wickholm, who prospered as he moved up in his career.
The buildings tell their own vivid story of a way of life from the past. The floors are made of wide wooden boards and the ceilings and doorways are endearingly crooked. Every room has a fireplace. The walls have been restored to their 19th-century surface treatments using patterns found while uncovering the different layers of the house. The foyer and the kitchen are splash-painted, the hall and kitchen chamber have painted wallpaper and the room in the separate building in the yard has printed “French” wallpaper.