Theatre Museum

Emotions and Elegance

Eino Partanen’s photographs from the theatres of Viipuri in 1930s

Photographer Eino Partanen (1902–1962) recorded the Viipuri theatre scene for a period of ten years 1929–1939. The online exhibition Emotions and Elegance leads the visitor across decades, in the middle of the of vibrant theatre scene of the buoyant Viipuri.

To the exhibition

In the 1930s, Viipuri was the city of elegance, operettas and light-heartedness, says Pentti Paavolainen, Visiting Professor in Theatre Research, author of the online exhibition script. The buzzing theatre scene in Viipuri offered a variety of high-quality productions. Though most of the performances were operettas and comedies, there was room for all genres from folk theatre productions to international classics, not to forget children’s theatre. Emotions and Elegance exhibition conveys, true to its title, the emotions provoked in the audience, and the elegance of a soirée at the theatre.

All negatives of Partanen’s theatre images have been lost. The majority of pictures appearing in this exhibition have been digitised from post-card sized photographs that Viipuri residents purchased of their favourite performances. These postcards served as advertisements for the theatre and were sent to friends, who later donated them to institutions such as the South Karelia Museum in Lappeenranta. Images showcasing Viipuri theatres also appear in several individual collections, including a gift from the Wiipuri Archives Society, held at the archives of the Theatre Museum in Helsinki. The actors Rauli Tuomi and Liisa Tuomi, children of the theatre director Arvi Tuomi, launched their careers in Viipuri, and family archives contain a wealth of interesting images, many of which have been selected for use in this exhibition. Despite the fact that other photographers also recorded productions in Viipuri, this exhibition features only those taken by Partanen and stamped Helios Oy. The images were chosen on the basis of their photographic quality and the representativeness of their contents.

This online version was adapted from the exhibition displayed in 2012 at the Hermitage Museum in Viipuri and at the Finnish Institute in St. Petersburg, and at the Theatre Museum in 2013. The exhibition was a tribute to Eino Partanen by his daughter, photographer Aila Teräväinen who passed away in 2015.

Working group:
Photographs – Eino Partanen
Original exhibition design – Aila Teräväinen and Pentti Paavolainen
Online exhibition script – Pentti Paavolainen
Online exhibition design and technical implementation – Irina Fialkina
Photo editing – Sirpa Nygren / Studio Tapio
Graphic design – Irina Fialkina
Archives – Theatre Museum, Museum of South Karelia, Liisa Tuomi family archives / Martti Ahlström

Production Theatre Museum 2016