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Finnish American Heritage Center staff still providing services despite closed building

July 31, 2020

Although the Finnish American Heritage Center (FAHC) building has been closed to the public since mid-March, the staff are still diligently providing services to the community. Assistant Editor of the Finnish American Reporter, David Maki, describes all the ways the community can take advantage of the services they offer from afar. 

What services are the FAHC staff providing at this time?

We’re still providing most of the interpersonal services we have been offering, but with adjustments that have public health in mind. The Finnish American Historical Archive is closed to the public, but our staff can still provide research assistance for anyone; those arrangements can be made either by email or phone. Additionally, we’re still accepting archival donations on an appointment basis. People just need to call ahead and explain what they’re bringing to donate, and when they arrive in Hancock a FAHC staff member can meet them on the sidewalk or in the parking lot (wearing a face covering, of course) to accept the donation. It’s wonderful that people are aware of the value of preserving items, especially since a lot of people have begun some cleaning and sorting projects with their newfound extra time!

What have you missed most this summer, program wise?

The summer is typically our busiest time — we usually say that we begin seeing visitors and tourists around Memorial Day, and they keep coming on a regular basis until the last colored leaf falls off the last tree. It’s very energizing to hear the feedback from these folks, particularly the ones who come from further away; they’re always so thrilled to see how much we’re doing to preserve and promote the culture so many people hold dear. We are definitely missing the opportunity to serve people through our Folk School classes, the Juhannus (Midsummer) festivities, and even just the casual passers-by. The interpersonal contact is always uplifting, and we’re hopeful that it’ll be sooner than later that we can resume these interactions. In the meanwhile, we’ll keep doing the best we can to keep our mission on the top of mind for all of our patrons.

Why Is now a good time to subscribe to the Finnish american reporter (FAR)?

It’s a great time to subscribe to FAR because, in most states, we’re encouraged to stay home as much as possible. That greatly increases folks’ reading time, and what better reading material than a newspaper that provides a direct connection to your heritage? Also, since many of our favorite museums, archives and cultural centers are closed, and festivals around the country are cancelled, there’s only one sure way to get a “Finnish fix” right now — and we can send it directly to your mailbox. Join the 4,000+ people who are already subscribers!

Subscribe to the FAR Now

When do you expect to reopen the building to the public?

There’s so much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 that we can’t say with any confidence when we’ll be open, in any form. Our ultimate focus is the well-being of our patrons (and our employees, of course) and since a majority of FAHC visitors are at or near retirement age (and in many cases well beyond) we simply can’t in good conscience open our doors widely until we know for certain that we wouldn’t, inadvertently or otherwise, affect someone’s health and well-being. We know that people are eager for our programming this fall, but whether we’re able to provide any of our “fan favorites” like the Nordic Film Series and our enrichment classes remains to be seen.

Maki would also like to remind patrons that there are a number of items available for purchase, including the “Sirkka: Past and Present Documentary”, “Tastes of Finnish American” cookbook, and “Finns of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula” book. These items can be found at https://www.finlandia.edu/fahc/merchandise/

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