Last week, Faces 1918 opened at the National Museum in Helsinki, featuring portraits from 100 years ago, reflecting everyday life through portraiture during the ongoing tension the Finnish Civil War.

To complement and provide context for this era, production design students from Aalto University designed and produced a handful of exhibits showing the strife of living in wartime. The exhibits vary in their media and form. Most striking is a recreated section of house from the era, seen at the top of this post, envisioned as stripped of possessions in the wake of an ongoing battle. A window shows a bleak, seemingly war-torn scene “outside” the house.

Another exhibit deals with a less tangible consequence of war: fear. A sculpted pillow shows the impression of a head on one side, and the hollow shape of a pistol, cleverly hidden beneath the pillow, on the other side. The surprising piece holds its secret well, requiring the viewer to step around the display case to find the reveal.


Many of the pieces were created in the Set Construction Workshop at Aalto Studios, and students worked to artificially age the new wood and other material they used to reflect the 1918 setting.

See the exhibit

Faces 1918 opened last week, and the photographs and exhibitions will be up at the National Museum until the end of April.