A Few Words About Women

Too often in retelling the history of Turku, Finland, as well as elsewhere in the world, are women and their roles bypassed with a few words only. The newest research from the University of Turku shows however that despite severe restrictions and regulations imposed on women of all classes in the 17th century, they were still active and influential members of society. Even with great control from the society and church, women managed businesses, employed others, as well as succeeded in their roles as wives and mothers.

A Few Words About Women is the name of the current museum exhibition at Turku Castle. The exhibition shines a light on the lives of six women in 17th century Turku. One of them was Countess Kristina Katarina Stenbock who followed her husband, count Pietari Brahe, from Sweden to Finland when he was appointed governor general of Finland, then under Swedish reign. The others are a widowed merchant Karin Hakola, pawnbroker Ingeborg Gerdner, iron factory owner Elin Såger, and sisters Magdalena and Katarina Wernle  who influenced things through the more traditional roles of wife and mother.

The items in the exhibition, clothing and other personal effects such as notes, books, jewellery were brought together from several museums in Finland and Sweden. The women's life stories are based on research done at the University of Turku. Also the local art academy and the re-enactment group GARS ry. has participated in the planning of events and lectures built around the exhibition.

Turku Castle stands where the river Aura runs into the Baltic sea. It was built in the 13th century; it has been everything including a private residence, a governing centre, a prison and since 1881, a history museum. In addition to permanent galleries the museum also hosts annual exhibitions related to the local history such as A Few Words About Women.

The exhibition is open 8.3.2019 - 8.3.2020. Image credits: Turku Museot &

Blog post by Minna Stubina

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