Northern Ostrobothnia Museum is BestBeloved Museum!

Northern Ostrobothnia Museum is BestBeloved Museum!

Author: Karoliina Autere

The Northern Ostrobothnia Museum is now at a significant turning point, where it is very natural to pause for a moment to contemplate the deepest purpose and approach of the museum. We are moving to new premises in the Capital of Culture year of Oulu in 2026. The new spaces will also enable us to adopt new ways of operating. We aspire to become a more dynamic and inclusive museum – to act as the home for the stories and history of our region, with a low threshold for entry. We want to facilitate a more visible involvement of communities in the museum’s activities and together build a museum that is meaningful to the communities, a “BestBeloved” museum. We are ready for change and are building a good future together with our communities.

ParasRakas museon logo.

“Shitty town” or “BestBeloved” town?

Oulu has perhaps Finland’s most well-known graffiti. This graffiti is a beloved part of our common urban space for us Oulu residents – people visit it to take pictures and, in doing so, become part of this very Oulu phenomenon. Its transformation is followed, and participation in the change is also encouraged. As a museum, we want to be a similar living part of urban culture, which people find so meaningful and personal that they want to participate in and shape the museum together with us. In the “BestBeloved” museum project, we consciously embark on a journey towards desired futures. These desired futures are outlined in future workshops during the project, together with our communities.

We think that opening up the museum collections, i.e., exhibition and event activities, needs to be developed through participation, among other things. Different and varied channels for participation are needed. For one person, participation may involve joining the museum’s future workshops to actively shape the museum of the future together, while for another, participation may be their first visit to the museum. When people are engaged in a way that suits them, the museum is experienced more deeply as one’s own. Understanding different user groups and offering ways of participation are prerequisites for strengthening the societal role of museums in the present.

Towards a dynamic museum

The museum must be an active and dynamic player in its own community. We must enable participation in dialogue. By a dynamic museum, we mean a museum that acts as an active player and facilitator, operating in the present, offering paths to the past and the future. We bring depth to this dialogue with our content, contextualizing the connections between past and present phenomena and possible futures. In this process, our communities are provided with tools to create a culturally sustainable future. The Museum Policy Program also emphasizes participatory activities as an important goal for museums, highlighting open and democratic work extending from the past to the future and the possibilities for people’s self-driven participation in museum activities.


Engaging in the face of cultural climate change

With our new participatory methods, we will consider diversity and genuine accessibility. Thus, we participate in Oulu’s cultural climate change – taking on a dynamic role in supporting and developing a society that is multi-voiced and culturally diverse. We create encounters and foster interaction. As a museum, we facilitate community activities that encourage bold and interactive engagement in society. Increasing participation is a strongly ethical choice for us.

We want to enable encounters between different people, cultures, and themes. In the future, we aim to be part of a safe urban space where differences are respected in a secure and positive atmosphere in all museum activities.

On Friday, 1.9.2023, the Northern Ostrobothnia Museum opens the “BestBeloved Museum Lab,” where everyone can participate and contribute to the creation of the best museum of the future. The lab will host guided tours, participation, and future workshops throughout the fall. Join us in creating the BestBeloved museum together!

The “BestBeloved Museum” project has received innovative funding of €36,000 from the Museum Board, making it the second-largest innovative funding granted this year. In the project’s actions, we involve communities in the planning of content and activities and engage staff and decision-makers in the new dynamic museum through various workshops and future heritage workshops. The project will be implemented from 2023 to 2024.


Karoliina Autere, Curator of Education, Northern Ostrobothnia Museum, Project manager of the BestBeloved Museum project