Finland opens online Museum of Contemporary Emotions to catalogue pandemic experiences

For healing to begin, we first need to understand our emotions. We need to go back in time and find words for what we experienced.

That’s the idea behind the online Museum of Contemporary Emotions, commissioned by the Finnish Prime Minister’s Office. It’s designed to support people in Finland as they reflect upon their emotions and experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic era.

At the time of the museum launch (October 7, 2021), Finland is in the process of dismantling Covid-19 restrictions and society is starting to move on from the newest wave of the pandemic.

The experimental virtual exhibition takes us through 28 events, starting in March 2020, when the WHO declared Covid-19 a global pandemic.

Some behaviours during the pandemic were universal, such as insomnia or hoarding. Others were more characteristic of Finland, such as many people working remotely from their beloved summer cabins, or an internationally exceptional baby boom – very welcome in a country where birth rates had been dropping in recent years.

The museum highlights six universal primary emotions that seem to occur in all cultures: sadness, happiness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust. It encourages self-reflection and offers interactive elements, such as an opportunity to write a message to your future self.

Visitors can go back in time and reflect on their own feelings, and possibly discover that they were not alone, that many people felt the same way. The organisers also believe that this process will make society stronger and more resilient for the next time a crisis arises.