The crazy world of the Kiljuset family

An interactive exhibition based on the Kiljuset-books of Jalmari Finne

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The exhibition is based on the 8 books Finnish author Adolf Jalmari Finne wrote about the Kiljuset family between 1914 and 1925.

All members of this jovial family are hyper-active, always in a hurry and cause chaos wherever they appear. Obviously, Kiljuset has the same spark and energy that allows children to jump, climb and run around and play endlessly. The spirit of the books is rather anarchic, with a big dose of social criticism and humour. My goal was to produce an unusually crazy environment where the audience would feel free to behave in the jovial Kiljuset-style. The exhibition fills the whole old villa with a high tower on the museum ground, expands to the roofs of the buildings and to the top of the tower, goes on in the yard around the villa and ends in the water of the lake near-by.

The exhibition design consists of numerous life-sized black-and-white prints, enlarged from Rafael Rindell’s and Rudolf Koivu’s original illustrations of the book. The front side of the display has a printed picture and on the back side is a fragment from the text which has seemingly been cut out from a giant book. In contrast to black-and-white drawings are the bright-red banners with the slogans written by Father Kiljunen: “Much ado and little result!”, “Everyone should do what he wants!”, “Smile in the street!” etc.

You can walk, run, try to drive an old classic toy-car or even take a toy-tram following the story and it’s characters along a track around the house. Several sound effects including meowing cats, crying cocks, barking dogs and even a crazy orchestra enhance your journey through the story.

If you step inside the villa, you find yourself in the chaos of falling furniture, breaking dishes and shouting people, even the floor in the house seems to tilt. After making your way through the “crowd installation”, you come to the pier in the Helsinki harbour and can jump straight into the “sea”, just as Kiljuset use to do.
The sea is made up of a real ball pool, where children can have a lot of fun.

The next room is a child’s dream, where you can draw, write, paint on the walls and even take a peek at a “ghost” in a dark chamber. Sooner or later, you’ll end up in a class room where paper balls fly around, crackers explode and children laugh. There you can let Kiljuset travel on a map of Europe or “translate” foreign place names into funny Finnish ones on a big map of Europe.

After all that, if you still feel “bored” in the school room, you can simply jump out of the classroom window - smashing it’s glass (without really doing any harm!).

The goal of the exhibition team has been to provoke children’s activity, to create an atmosphere of freedom and creative chaos, and to inspire the inner child in everyone.

Museum of the Finnish Book Pukstaavi, Sastamala, Finland, 2013

Visual concept, exhibition architecture: Alexander Reichstein
Curator: Minna Honkasalo
Pictures: Rafael Rindell, Rudolf Koivu, Alexander Reichstein
Sound effects: Petri Laakso, Henrik Hackenberg
Animation: Veikko Björk
Construction work: Tenho Pimiä, Veli-Pekka Bäckman
Print: Janne Kurtelius
Thanks to: Maria Laukka