Natural phenomena used to be explained by reference to gods and magical forces. The first roughly scientific explanation of the world was created through ancient elemental theory.
National Library of Finland will present an exhibition that examines the relationship between human beings and nature and the development of concepts relating to nature from the perspective of the four classical elements: earth, water, air and fire. During this exhibition, experts from various branches of natural science will examine research, ideas and impressions related to the elements with the help of the National Library’s collections and some objects loaned from scientific and cultural institutions.
The treasures of the National Library of Finland on display – books, magazines and ephemera – mainly come from the National Collection, as the emphasis of the exhibition lies in Finnish nature. However, the exhibition also offers samples of the Manuscript Collection, the National Sound Archive and European research since the 16th century.
Exhibition gems from various centuries
The gems of the exhibition include Elias Til-Landz's Turun Seudun kasviluettelo (List of Plants in the Turku Region) from 1683. The first edition of the work was published as early as 1673 and was the first publication on Finnish nature. Elias Til-Landz was Professor of Medicine at the Academy of Turku.
Theon of Alexandria’s work, In Claudii Ptolemaei magnam constructionem commentariorum libri11, printed in 1538, is one of the oldest in the exhibition. Almagest, published about 150 and written by Claudius Ptolemy, wasa thorough manual of astronomy of its time, dominating the worldview for a millennium and a half. The Greek edition on display was printed in Basel in 1538.
Jonas Hahn's work Ytterligare tilökning wid den förnyade Johan Månssons siö-märkes-bok eller des Uplifwade aska år 1748 dates back to 1751. In the book, Lieutenant Commander Jonas Hahn presents a new version of Captain Johan Månsson's 1644 book on navigation.
Also on display is the famous work on meteorology, Atmospheric Circulation Systems (Erik Palmén & Chester W. Newton), from 1969. Erik Palmén is perhaps the world’s best-known Finnish meteorology researcher. His and Chester W. Newton's book continues to be used internationally as a textbook in the field.
Mother of the idea for the exhibition: Professor, National Librarian Cecilia af Forselles
Chair: Professor Jouko Rikkinen (University of Helsinki).
Members: Doctor of Philosophy Elise Garritzen (University of Helsinki); Postdoctoral Researcher Heli Huhtamaa (University of Bern); Docent of Astronomy Hannu Karttunen (University of Turku); Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Technology Johan Stén (University of Helsinki); Doctor of Philosophy, Docent Allan Tiitta (University of Helsinki) and Professor Emeritus Nils Erik Villstrand (Åbo Akademi University).
Expert in the National Library’s collection: Jaakko Tahkokallio
Exhibition Designer in charge of the visual appearance of the exhibition: Maara Kinnermä
Exhibition Coordinator: Marjut Hjelt
Conservator: Marleena Vihakara
The National Library of Finland’s communications: Marko Oja, Mia Mansaré, Tiina Lehmikoski-Pessa, Katri Nissilä, Teemu Kokkonen