The Sámi Museum and Nature Center-Siida-is one of the most popular destinations in northern Lapland. The museum, in the 1960s was designed as an open-air museum and is dedicated to the culture of the Sámi people, who are indigenous to the Lappish region. Visitors had to wait another 30 years before another museum structure-designed by renowned Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa-was opened in 1998. Another two decades later, it was time for expansion and renovation to accommodate the now increased number of visitors and to bring the facility up to modern standards. As part of the renovation process, Oulu-based technical systems specialists Caverion Suomi Oy supplied and installed a complete Genelec SmartIP loudspeaker solution on a Dante AoIP network infrastructure. Sound engineer Aki Päivärinne of Oioi Collective-experts in ‘interactive experience design-was responsible for the audio design for the new exhibits.
The Sámi people-whose region spans many areas in northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia’s Murmansk Oblast-live in harmony with the lands in which they settle. Their traditional livelihoods include coastal fishing, catching animals for fur production, herding and farming. The newly renovated museum houses a completely new exhibit where culture becomes one with nature, using the latest technology inside the museum to showcase and celebrate Sámi culture. Interestingly, the architect in charge of the new exhibition-called ‘These Lands Are Our Children,’ taken from the poem Inari Sámi by Matti Morottaja-is none other than Harri Koskinen, the renowned industrial designer who has collaborated with Genelec for many years.
“My request was to recreate a soundscape capable of reflecting the many sounds that characterize nature in Lapland and design a technical solution for that,” Päivärinne explains. “I knew that the open environment of the museum lobby would be an interesting challenge acoustically and thematically, as all seasons are shown in the same room.”
In fact, Sámi culture celebrates not just four but eight different seasons that mark the rhythm of life of the Sámi people; in addition to spring, summer, autumn and winter there are also spring-summer, autumn-summer, autumn-winter and spring-winter.
“I wanted to create a soundscape that would give a natural and authentic setting to the exhibition, without covering up the cultural heritage of the Sámi people,” he continues. “I thus created a frame that puts their culture in context. Considering that the Sámi still live in close connection with nature, a play between nature and culture seemed like a good start.”
Part of Siida’s audio installation was created by Pekka Aikio, who also belongs to the Sámi people and is extremely active in defending the rights and heritage of these people. Aikio was responsible for the audio specifically concerning the culture of the Sámi people, which Päivärinne later integrated into the overall soundscape.
When it came to installing the audio design, Päivärinne was adamant: “I knew I would use Genelec speakers, as in terms of sound quality, detail and transparency there is no comparison. It is also a Finnish brand-and in a museum celebrating indigenous culturein an exhibition created by Harri Koskinen, it would be sacrilegious to use anything else! It was a given that we would use Smart IP technology, as Siida’s technical infrastructure is based entirely on Ethernet cabling-which make it easy to plug into the same network.”
Päivärinne explains that he designed the system in circular formations for both exhibition areas. “I wanted to create the feeling that the visitor is surrounded by nature and culture. There are two concentric circles in the main exhibition; the inner circle is dedicated to the audiovisual installation that modtra the Sámi culture with its accompanying soundtrack. The outer circle shows the eight seasons of the Sámi homeland.
“Because the space was acoustically challenging, I decided to shift the focus from one season to the next on a rotating basis – kind of like a lighthouse, but with audio – rather than playing them all at the same time, thus spurring visitors to move sequentially through the seasons. There are even areas of the exhibition where audio is played through directional speakers or headphones to avoid the cacophony caused by overlapping musical levels in the space.”
Lauri Riihiaho led the Caverion team responsible for the Dante network and installation of the speakers inside the building. He was impressed by the ease and simplicity of installation of the Smart IP speakers.
“This was our first experience with Genelec-Smart IP in particular-and honestly it was a piece of cake,” he noted. “Our task was to install the speakers and configure the network switches for Dante. We installed a total of 30 4430s plus a pair of 8010s for one of the Sámi cultural exhibits and a 7040 subwoofer used to play shamanic drum sounds. We used the Genelec Smart IP Manager software to configure the speakers, which was straightforward and saved us a lot of time. We configured the switches and everything worked perfectly. We used a media server equipped with a 32 x 32 Dante card as the main hub to manage all the museum’s media content. We connected the speakers to the Dante outputs of the media server and that was it-our work was done.
“Smart IP is an impressive technology,” Riihiaho continued. “You just need a CAT cable to connect the speaker to the network. You don’t even have to worry about power outlets, as the same cable provides power via PoE along with the audio and control signals. As a result, Genelec Smart IP is a cost-saving solution compared to the traditional analog audio system, as you save on wiring costs and installation time.”
Siida’s staff is excited about the new exhibition within the renovated and expanded space.
“It is gratifying to see how the Sàmi culture attracts many visitors. As a result, it was time to modernize and expand,” said sales and marketing manager Minna Murahainen.
“We increased the building area by 50 percent, which allows us to do justice to the richness and diversity of Sámi culture and its deep connection with nature. As such, it was important for us, where possible, to be able to use brands that reflect our values, especially related to issues such as sustainability. Genelec clearly meets these prerequisites. We are pleased with the new exhibit that uses the latest technology to introduce and immerse our visitors in the Sámi environment, which today is threatened and deserves a voice. We see ourselves as an integral part of the mission to preserve the Sámi heritage by installing modern-and sustainable-AV technology to help tell their story is a key part of the mission.”