The exhibition evokes the old thought about the frivolity and trancience of all things beautiful and abundant, bringing it to the present day through history, touchingly close to people of today.

Vanitas 23 April 2021 – 14 August 2022

The exhibition is a collection exhibition of Museum Centre of Turku, and it features the museum’s wonderful collections of items and works of art as well as treasures from the archives. In the exhibition, you will have the chance to peek at beautiful and fateful black and white studio photographs, bask in the glory of glistening gilded mirrors and see impressive outfits from various eras.

The exhibition will paint a human picture of the vain and luxury-loving nature of people, always striving for plentifulness, as well as a great thirst for life and fear of death. We idolise and pursue youth, beauty and all things luxurious – and at the same time we are afraid of growing old, dying and losing material things. We are contradictory: on the one hand we marvel at ourselves and our achievements in awe, but on the other hand we are harsh critics of our vanity. Touching poems written for the exhibition by poets Juhani Brander, Susinukke Kosola, Hanna Storm, Sinikka Svärd and Jouni Teittinen will serve as an introduction to the themes of the exhibition.

The word vanitas is Latin for vanity. In art history, vanitas is a well-known genre of painting, which was already recognised in the Renaissance but flourished in the 17th century. Vanitas paintings remind us of human mortality, the briefness of our time on earth, the transience of earthly riches and the vanity of it all. Vanitas paintings tend to contain a multitude of symbols. The tulips in abundant arrangements wither to dust, the sand in the hourglass slips away and soap bubbles remind us of the fleeting nature of it all as the skull evokes the inevitability of death.

The Vanitas exhibition encourages us to take another look in the mirror.

Exhibition Brochure (pdf)