Once Upon a Time, a Story of the Origin of Fairy Tales

Welcome to a fairytale forest! Once Upon a Time, a Story of the Origin of Fairy Tales, is an exhibition about fairy tales, heroes and heroines. It features both familiar and less familiar fairy tales from Europe and beyond, taking visitors across the seven lands and the seven seas.

The magical forest in the exhibition space leads visitors into a world of tales full of adventure, wonder, and trials and tribulations. Visitors follow the paths of a hero. The adventures take the traveller to different times and places, introducing them to the universal laws of storytelling. At the same time, the fairy tales share their hidden meanings and lessons.

In a magic forest you will find an oriental market and a treasure chamber, a prince and a princess. The interactive exhibition allows you to play the role of a fairy tale hero and perform various tasks. Brave visitors can work their way out of the underworld by completing an obstacle course and slaying a dragon. If the hero’s cloak starts to feel heavy, you can sit back in a mushroom forest and listen to ancient tales. Or use a story generator to create your own tale, which you can choose to end either happily or not.

The exhibition is an experience. Recognising familiar fairy tale characters brings joy to both adult visitors and young listeners. The exhibition takes a deep dive into the origins of fairy tales and explains how stories were told in the old days, what lies beneath the symbolism of fairy tales, and how fairy tales have changed over time.

Produced by the Estonian National Museum, the exhibition has been adapted to the Finnish fairy tale tradition. The collaborative team includes film directors, folklorists, literary scholars, animators and illustrators.