Govt Palace to mark bi-centennial celebration in Autumn

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Govt Palace to mark bi-centennial celebration in Autumn

Designed by the distinguished German architect Carl Ludvig Engel, the main Government Palace building in Helsinki was completed in 1822 and this year the building will mark its bicentennial anniversary in autumn, said an official press release.

The main Government Palace building was taken into use on 27 September 1822. An open day will be arranged at the Palace in autumn 2022, giving members of the public an opportunity to look over its historic facilities.

A series of short public lectures will also be arranged on such topics as the history of the Palace, the people who worked there, architecture and art. This two-day event will be open to everyone.

A new trilingual book 200 Years of the Government Palace provides an illustrated history of the building.

Written and illustrated by Katri Maasalo, the book is a visual exposition of a key administrative building in the history of Finland, with nearly 150 images dating from the late 19th century to 2020. The oldest surviving photograph of the Palace was taken in 1866. The Prime Minister’s Office commissioned the work from the Finnish Literature Society.

Over a period of two centuries, the Government Palace building initially housed the Imperial Senate and then the Government of the Republic. The Palace was constructed as an administrative building and still serves its original purpose. The façade of the building has remained almost unchanged.

The structure of operations in the main building has remained the same, and its facilities are still recognisable after two centuries. As the building is not open to the public, it is widely known mainly through images of government ministers taking their oaths of office, ritual handshakes, and countless sessions and press conferences. These ceremonies recur even as the people involved come and go. The pictures taken here mainly document official occasions, and photography is restricted to particular times and places.

The illustrations in the book relate historical events over the years. They show how imperial power was emphasised, and how artistic settings were created for photographs in 1918. They also show how wartime bombing left its mark, and how the COVID-19 pandemic affected this venerable building.

The illustrations used in the book are mainly from the Government image bank, the image collections of Helsinki City Museum and the Finnish Heritage Agency, and the photographic archives of Lehtikuva and Helsingin Sanomat. The exposition of both spaces and people largely proceeds in chronological order.

Katri Maasalo has served as a journalist, press officer and publishing house editor. Her previous work Senate Square – A History of Finland in Pictures was published in autumn 2019.


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