Explore Turku’s outdoor sculptures
Given there are nearly 100 sculptures strewn throughout Turku, it’s likely you’ll accidentally stumble across one or several dozen as you venture around the city. But this self-guided tour will take you past some favourites situated along the tranquil Aura River.
Start at Runeberginpuisto Park with a visit to Lily of Turku, one of the earliest sculptures acquired by the city. Designed by Wäinö Aaltonen (commit this name to memory: it will crop up over and over again), the artwork is beloved by Turku townsfolk, who place a student cap atop her head every May Day. The university’s dental students then give the sculpture her yearly check-up, cleaning her with a giant toothbrush.
As you stroll west towards the Turku City Theatre, keep your eyes open for an enormous spider web stretched across the entrance to a cave. Entitled Network, the sculpture is made from braided polyester rope and serves as a comment upon the modern phenomenon of networking.
No sculpture trail in Turku is complete without stopping by the Wäinö Aaltonen Museum. Named in honour of the artist whose works have had such a profound impact on the city, the museum houses a collection donated by Aaltonen himself as well as more recent acquisitions. As you enter the building, notice the three statues positioned proudly outside, Intellectual work, settler, and future. Part of a celebrated series entitled Work and future, here Aaltonen sought to capture the ideals of a young Finnish nation still finding its feet.
As you wander towards Turku Castle, pay close attention to the streetscape. Somewhere hidden around here you’ll find dozens of tiny sculptures, crafted by a group of local children with the help of artist Oona Tikkaoja. The fun is in the finding, so put on your detective cap and search window sills, stair rails, and even under garden seats.
You don’t need to look too carefully to find the last sculpture. First unveiled in 2011, when Turku was crowned as the annual European Capital of Culture, Daisy is a reminder to appreciate nature’s beauty and protect its diversity. The sculpture is gigantic with the stem alone measuring some 25 metres. It’s the perfect place to enjoy an ice-cream and plan your next trail.
Text: Kathleen Cusack
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