The Wiipuri collection

The Museums of Lappeenranta’s Wiipuri collection is based on a collection project launched in the 1970s by the Wiipuri Museum Foundation (Wiipuri-museon Säätiö). The foundation started collecting artefacts and other material related to Viipuri and the Karelian Isthmus. The collection was placed in Lappeenranta in 1977, and the foundation donated it to the museum in 1998. The cultural-historically significant collection includes around 7,000 artefacts and 7,000 photographs. You can explore the digitised part of the collection in Finna.

Besides building the collections, the Wiipuri Museum Foundation commissioned for the South Karelia Museum a detailed scale model (1:500) depicting the most significant and best-known parts of Viipuri on 2 September 1939. The model was built in 1985–96. One part of the model (6.5 x 3.5) features the town extending from the Pyhän Annan (St Anna’s) fortress to the Patterinmäki district. The second, later part (2 x 3) depicts the Papula district. The model was drawn by construction architect Juha Lankinen and created by Lahti-Malli OY.

Later, a VirtualViipuri website produced by Tampere University of Applied Sciences was created based on the model. The website features a video of the scale model designed by Juha Lankinen.

An artefact collection by Swedish-speaking Viipuri residents is also deposited in the Viipuri collection (Wiipuri Museum) of the South Karelia Museum.

Also deposited in Lappeenranta is property from the former Finnish town of Viipuri, including ethnological artefacts that belonged to the collections of the Viipuri Historical Museum. After the war, the property of the town of Viipuri was managed first by a special governing body and later by the Torkkeli Foundation. Today, the collection is managed and owned by the Viipuri Foundation.

Collections saved from the Viipuri Historical Museum were deposited in the museums of the City of Lahti. A small number of the artefacts were further deposited in Lappeenranta in 1962. The collection includes, for example, 97 pieces of traditional dresses and parts thereof and Viktor Svaetichin’s drawings and watercolours depicting the town of Viipuri and the manors and parsonages in the province of Viipuri from the early 20th century.

In the 1930s, Viipuri was the second-largest town in Finland, with a population of 75,000–80,000. As the capital of the province of Viipuri, it was the administrative, commercial and cultural centre of Eastern Finland. Viipuri hosted the bishops of two churches and a court of appeal. Established already in the Middle Ages, the town was also a major port and the largest garrison town in Finland.

Finland lost Viipuri to the Soviet Union as part of the peace after the Winter War on 13 March 1940. Finland conquered the town back during the Continuation War in 1941 but lost it again at the end of the war in 1944. The inhabitants of Viipuri and the province of Viipuri’s ceded areas left their homes and relocated to live in different parts of Finland.