Prime Minister's office, the Finland Forward project

Emotions as tools for recovery

Experience platforms, Digital concepts, Creative storytelling

The challenge

How to strengthen the psychological resilience of people in Finland through communication.

As the world suddenly slowed down and the pandemic took control of life as we used to know it, Finns like the rest of the world, were thrown into the unknown and forced to face a new kind of everyday life. The impact of the pandemic was enormous. All of our lives were affected in one way or another. To prepare the people of Finland and our society for healing, the Finnish Prime Minister’s Office (VNK) wanted to find a way of supporting Finns exhausted by COVID-19 while also documenting the extraordinary time and its effects on society.

The project needed to reflect the larger strategy of the Finland Forward project (Suomi Toimii -kokonaisuus), that aims to enhance dialogue and help us endure everyday life and all its challenges by strengthening the psychological resilience of Finnish citizens. In addition, the results of this project would also act as benchmarks and learning points for possible future crises.

The solution

An exceptional story of an exceptional time

Early on, we noticed that the pandemic era was well-documented. We had studies, diaries, photos and videos. But what was missing was emotions: how did we feel when Finland shut down? How did we feel when we moved to distance learning and remote work. The key tool for recovery from any kind of trauma, crisis or stressful situation is to find a word for your emotion. Experts like psychotherapists, encourage us to word our feelings. Many studies show that phrasing our feelings in statements like “I am scared now” or “I felt overwhelmed then” releases stress and helps us to look forward.

As an outlet for healing and shared reflection, we created the Museum of Contemporary Emotions, a virtual museum that tells the story of an extraordinary time that affected all of us and helps us find words for what we felt during it.  To begin, we set off on a journey to collect data and insight on emotions and phenomena from the pandemic time.  We studied everything from consumer data to online phenomena and talk on social media.

To deepen our understanding of emotions and the phenomena associated with the height of the pandemic, we also teamed up with scientists, psychologists, and behaviorists.

A widely accepted theory of six basic emotions, developed by Paul Ekman, suggests we have six basic emotions. These six basic emotions include sadness, happiness, fear, anger, surprise, and disgust. For the Museum of Contemporary Emotions, we collected the huge array of emotions, phenomena and behaviors stemming from the pandemic and matched these with the basic emotions recognized by Paul Ekman.

With insight from our experts, great amounts of data and material and the framework of six key emotions, the content for the Museum of Contemporary Emotions was created. 

The emotions in the museum manifest themselves through color, music and art. Award-winning composer Markku Mäkelä created music for each emotion. For launch we cooperated with six just graduated young pandemic era artists that created artwork for each emotion. Photos in the museum are from 30 professional and photographers that captured everyday life during the Pandemic.

The interactive virtual museum gives visitors a chance to reflect on their own emotions and experiences and provides a medium for shared healing.

The outcome

With the help of a large array of partners, we were able to capture a glimpse of what the pandemic times might have felt like for Finns. Together, we created a platform for healing that documents an extraordinary turning point in time. The Museum of Contemporary Emotions acts as both an outlet for collective healing and reflection as well as a means of further learning by providing interactive and engaging ways to reflect your emotions. The Museum of Contemporary Emotions provides a platform for visitors to write letters to their future selves as a way of healing. These letters may be used in the future as contemporary material for studies. It is our intention to save the letters as a part of archiving the Covid-19 pandemic data in the National Archives of Finland. The Museum of Contemporary Emotions is a concept that aims to be visible also outside of the virtual site, like in light festivals or visiting cities and exhibitions. You can also listen to the music of Museum of Contemporary Emotions on Spotify.


Prime ministers office, the Finland Forward project


Public service

Type of work

Experience platforms,
Digital concepts,
Creative storytelling



Client description

The Prime Minister's Office, a ministry led by the Prime Minister in person, is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Government’s political programme. The Prime Minister’s Office also assists the Prime Minister in the general management of Government functions. The purpose of the Finland Forward project coordinated by the Prime Minister’s Office is to support the ability of people and society to cope with crises and to strengthen psychological resilience through communication.