Don’t Miss This Exhibit

Reindeer milking bowl

Last night, we got a sneak preview of the “Eight Seasons in Sápmi” exhibit at the Nordic Heritage Museum. I will be returning tonight for the Member’s Preview, and no doubt several times after, to enjoy it at leisure (the show closes November 4, 2012). The artifacts include items from the Ajtte Museum, displayed in three rooms on the second floor. The items in the hallway are from the Nordic Heritage Museum’s archives, gathered by donations over the years, and not, to my knowledge, exhibited before.

Before the preview, about fifty of us were treated to lectures and slideshows presented by Mari Ann Nutti (director of the Duodji Association) and Anna Westman Kuhmunen (director of Ajtte). It was great to see so many familiar faces in the crowd! (Several people said they came because of our emailed invitation just a few hours earlier, which goes to show you never know which outreach is going to hit its target.)

Mari-Ann (whose surname Nutti is Sámi) wore her beautiful summer gakti from the Jokkmokk area, where her family is still active in reindeer herding. She gave us an overview of Sámi handicrafts, the natural materials from which they are made, and their many uses. Included in the exhibit are knives, drums, cups, spoons, jewelry, baskets, bags, and clothing, as well as some videos on autoplay that I am eager to watch tonight.

Anna gave a fascinating glimpse at the pre-Christian Sámi religion, its connection to the landscape, its holy sites and gods, and its contrast to the Christian worldview that most Sámi eventually adopted (while maintaining, even today, connections to the ancient ways). I can’t do justice to the nuances, so I’ll stop there. However, this topic is an abiding interest of mine, so you can expect more on this in future posts!

Both Lynn and I had hoped to videotape the lectures, but unfortunately had technical difficulties (memory fail!) and only a portion was caught. Perhaps we can persuade Mari-Ann and Anna to share their slideshows.

PS: Thanks to Lynn for bringing treats for the preview tonight as well as some smoked salmon “Poulsbo style” to share with our houseguests.

—Julie

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