The recently revamped permanent exhibition at Aboa Vetus tells about urban life in Turku in the Middle Ages.
The heart of Aboa Vetus is the ruins of the buildings and streets of the Monastery Quarter. The city's stone buildings, ships arriving from overseas, merchants, soldiers and craftsmen are brought to life for visitors through illustrative tales. Archaeological finds and documents provide visitors with basic information on the stone buildings of the Monastery Quarter and on medieval life. Most of the finds preserved from the Middle Ages up to the present day are pieces of glass, bone, leather, wood or metal. Some of these artefacts have been preserved intact, such as a shoe made for a six-year old child out of cowhide, which was found still on a last. In some cases, copies of the original objects have been made based on fragments found, as in the case of wine and beer glasses.
With younger visitors in mind, 'activity islands' have been located in the exhibition. Here you can experience the techniques used in medieval brick-laying, use a stylus to create a wax picture or play ‘fox games' that were popular in the Middle Ages. Permission to participate and play also extends to the exhibition's miniature models of a 15th-century merchant's house, whose doll and animal characters provide a wonderful insight into life centuries ago.
Sounds are a key part of the exhibition. The museum visitor slips almost unseen into a medieval alleyway, in which the hum of people's conversation mingles with the barking of a dog and the clattering of hoofs. The eyes search instinctively for a fly, whose buzzing is echoing in the ears. Elsewhere in the exhibition, a blacksmith hammers away in his workshop and church bells peal in the distance. Until september 2010 the permanent soundscape of Aboa Vetus is replaced by the Sound Ways exhibition.