Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kiasma Catastrophe

This was going to be the post in which I called out Lonely Planet Finland for making a really bad recommendation on a museum for children.

Last week, in the Helsinki for Children section of our guidebook, I read that "the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma" is "the pick of the museums" by kids and "has loads of interaction and freaky fun." And so we set off for a Saturday outing to Kiasma.

Kiasma outside

Here is how our day went:

Arrive at the stunning modern facility designed to mimic the Greek letter Chi by American architect Steven Holl. Exhibit currently running is called "Thank You For the Music." Sweet. Joey should love this.

MK helps Lily in the bathroom while Rob lags behind boys as they run up a grand, light-filled ramp. Boys encounter first installation at the top of the ramp--a video of naked women gyrating to music.

MK arrives with Lily to see Rob raise his eyebrows and hear Joey mumble "wow, this place is totally inappropriate." Rob quickly ushers boys through to the next installation... visual art utilizing old records to demonstrate that vinyl hasn't died. We all think it's cool and think we're in for lots more of the same.

Next up is an off beat video of a dude who sold his soul to the devil to become a better guitar player. Scary make-up is involved, Sam asks if we can leave now because "this place is going to give him nightmares."

We move through 1 or 2 more exhibits and arrive in a room with an enormous photograph depicting fans of a heavy metal band (maybe "Slayer?"). Fans are dressed in goth style--lots of piercings, black eyeliner and lipstick, tatoos, chains, etc. You know, the kind of clothes we wear all the time. Sam asks "Where is the exit? This place gives me the creeps."

Next is a set of four video towers depicting each of the members of KISS applying their black/white makeup. Remember Gene Simmons? He was great back in the 80s. Sam is NOT a fan.

Behind the video towers is another video of long-haired boys doing the head banger hair whip while sticking their tongues out Gene Simmons syle. Sam, somewhat more desperately this time, asks "Mom, I need an exit NOW." I will NEVER sleep again.

Gene Simmons makes another appearance in a visual art piece in which an artist has ripped out the faces of musicians on album covers and replaced them with other musicians.

Besides saying "it's scary," Sam thought this artist was "just plain rude to rip someone else's face off"  of the album cover and replace it with someone elses. How do you explain modern art to a child? (Perhaps THAT is the question I should have asked myself before choosing Kiasma over the aquarium?)

We move on to the third floor. At this point, I'm thinking, this has GOT to be the permanent exhibit and the part that kids just love. You think we would have figured this place out by now and kept the kids close by, but I was CERTAIN the third floor would be different.  It sure was different.  We let Joey get ahead of us only to find him watching (eyes wide open, mouth agape) a video of, well, all I saw was a girl dressed as a cheerleader on top with boy bits fully exposed on her (his?) bottom.

Joey announces in his loudest voice "Oh my gosh, I'm going to be scarred for life!" Sam is crying, "can we just find an exit?" I hear laughter from the people around us as we scoop up Lily, shield Sam's eyes (at this point, he isn't even curious what's on the other side of the wall--he's SURE if we are running him out of there it is SCARY!) and RUN out of there! Rob and I are laughing so hard at this point, there are tears streaming down our faces.

And that was our first outing to a museum (kids' favorite according to Lonely Planet) in Helsinki.

Sitting down at the desk today to write my blog post and call Lonely Planet out on their bad recommendation, I read the NEXT line of the guidebook: "check that special exhibits won't raise any adult themes."

Yeah. Too late for that.  

(None of the photos in the post are mine except for the top one )


  1. This might have been a better choice for your kids.

    1. Thank you! We see that they have special hours during ski week and may try to fit in a visit then!

  2. OMG Mar......this was so funny!!!!!

  3. Heh! I feel bad, but you had me laughing too! You write a good story!

    I imagine the aquarium will be much better! ...hopefully!


  4. Oh wow. Now that's a cultural experience for sure. Good thing you have this blog to document it all!