Kniivilä Local Heritage Museum

Kniivilä Museum hosts more than 3,000 catalogued items while Kniivilä farm represents traditional local activities – they have farming and livestock as well as fishing gear and hand tools and samples of artefacts on display. A shoemaker’s cottage with a smoke sauna and small cowshed gives us a peek into a smallholder’s life. The barn houses a collection of old farming gear ranging from the end of the 19th century to the 1960’s. Also fishing gear and a mid-engine boat are on display.

The local heritage museum is open in summer, June to August from Wednesday to Sunday 11 am to 5 pm. A municipal museum guide takes visitors to the Kniivilä House and talks about the House and family’s history and the beginnings of museum activities in Hailuoto. Several interesting old buildings and gear scatter the grounds and will be seen in the course of the guided tour while the guide talks about local history. The tour takes approximately an hour.

Kniivilä House story

The Kniivilä House is an old farm, known already in the 17th century. The family has lived there at least for six generations, since the 1740’s. In the 1860’s the farm was divided first between brothers and the other half sold out of the family to Ludvig Lalin, Lighthouse Master, in 1872. At that time, Kniivilä grounds became a two-household farm.  The Kniivilä House had earlier stood on the west side of the grounds, however, the present house was built to a new location in 1924. Massive logs from the old house, shipped from mainland in 1830’s, were salvaged and reused for the building of the new one.

The last residents in Kniivilä were unmarried siblings Hanna (1883–1954), Eemeli (1889–1966) and Heikki (1892–1978). The three of them lived in the house leading frugal, traditional life farming and having livestock. The sons of Kniivilä were well-known for their skill for breeding horses.

When Heikki died in 1978 as the last of his family, there was no one to whom to leave the farm. Frugal Kniivilä family had saved a lot of old gear and therefore the State handed the farm over to Hailuoto municipality as a local heritage museum. Furniture and other items in the house make up a large part of the museum collection. For most part the house has remained as it was while the daughter and two brothers still lived there.

J. L. Suomela, a school teacher, started to collect old items in the 1930’s to use them at school for teaching. The local heritage collection at the school included old tools, craftwork and coins and notes. Eventually, the collection compiled by J. L. Suomela and items handed over ended up at the museum.

In addition to the nine buildings originally on the Kniivilä House grounds, other buildings have been added to the farm, including a shoemaker’s cottages and sheds, workshop, fish storages and a windmill. The farm exhibits many sides of past life, everyday routines, livelihoods and skilful craftworks in Hailuoto.