| 15.02.2022

Facing disaster – practice your crisis tolerance at the science centre Heureka

Person tittar på en ljusinstallation föreställande brand
Earthquakes, storms, floods, forest fires - natural disasters have a firm grip on our world. In order for us to handle disasters in the best possible way, two things are needed: cooperation and trust.

At the science centre Heureka in Vantaa, the exhibition “Facing Disaster” tests your resilience skills before facing powerful forces of nature. Hanken’s HUMLOG Institute is one of the co-ooperation partners and has played a central role in the planning and holding of the exhibition.

“The purpose of the exhibition is to make you reflect on what may happen in your surroundings, how you can prepare, how you will react and how you can help yourself, your family and society,” says Gyöngyi Kovács, professor of humanitarian logistics at the HUMLOG Institute.

Among other things, the HUMLOG Institute has designed the structure of the exhibition. The intention is that crisis resistance is strengthened through experiencing the cyclical nature of natural disasters.

“First we prepare for a disaster, then we respond to it, and then it’s time for reconstruction and recovery. By means of new experiences we can then meet the next force of nature. It´s thanks to the HUMLOG Institute that we have a resilience perspective instead of having a direct approach to frightening natural disasters,” says Emmi Huhtaniemi, exhibition planner at Heureka.

Since the exhibition is also aimed at children, the focus chosen is on every-day life, cooperation and preparedness.

“We get a wrong impression of natural disasters through news or from action movies that something occurs suddenly and surprisingly. In reality, people often live a normal daily life in these areas and are prepared for what is going to happen,” says Huhtaniemi.

Interactivity and light installations

In the middle of the exhibition premises, through interactive games, visitors can train in transporting disaster relief through difficult terrain, save persons from the sea with a helicopter or rebuild a town in ruins, even when not sharing a common language. The key word is cooperation, and all exercises must be made with others. The gaming area is surrounded by the four elements of water, wind, fire and earth that are created by means of colourful light and sound installations made by the artist László Zsolt Bordos.

Tre personer räddar personer från havet med en helikoptersimulator
The mission is to save persons from the sea with a helicopter

After having experienced the strong forces of nature, you get information about real events. On the walls, there are quotations from people who were affected by or helped in a natural disaster. In a display cabinet lies a collection of teddy bears knit by volunteers and distributed to children who have experienced forest fires in Australia. In the background, a Philippine radio jingle is repeated in Tagalog with a request to boil water before you drink it.

Even if Finland has not been affected by large natural disasters, the exhibition is also relevant here.

“We live in a cataclysmic world with climate changes and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic, and all of us probably feel some uncertainty. It can be good, through the exhibition, to contemplate how we already prepared for any disasters nd what could be improved,” Huhtaniemi says.

Time-consuming, but meaningful project

Gyöngyi Kovács states that the cooperation with Heureka started a number of years ago. First, Hanken applied for research financing with Heureka, but without success.

“We then chose to work with the Heureka project, among other things within the framework of our project course in CSR and Humanitarian Logistics. The students worked with the project from different perspectives, some wrote conceptual papers on resilience, whereas others worked with actual ideas for the exhibition. Some of the ideas, such as the helicopter rescue, to pick the right things to bring along in case of evacuation or to coordinate supplies in areas hit by disaster are in fact included in the exhibition,” says Kovács.

Ett spel med små kulor som föreställer människor, målet är att få kulorna till den andra sidan genom hinder
The key word is cooperation, and all exercises must be made with others.

According to Kovács, the project has been very fun, different, interesting and time-consuming. Certain people have also been skeptical as the work doesn´t show any research output.

“But the students really enjoyed the course! And we must not forget the opportunity of social impact it is. Hanken would not normally reach so many people, in particular as the exhibition is also going to be displayed in other places in the world.”

  • The exhibition “Facing Disaster” Opens in new window is open until 7 January 2024. As one of the main partners, HUMLOG participates in a Family Day for the exhibition at Heureka on 26 March 2022 (more information will follow).


Photos: Wille Nyyssönen/Heureka