The Kalevela

While touring the Bottle House museum in Kaleva, be sure to go into the small room at the back of the house. On the walls of that room are six beautiful and extremely rare murals. The murals were created during the Great Depression under the auspices of the Work Projects Administration. The WPA sponsored projects, large and small, all-over Michigan, to put people to work. A well-known artist of the time, Harry Armstrong, was directed to help communities develop an art project that would reflect local history or culture.

kalevela mural

The project chosen for Kaleva was these murals depicting an epic poem, the Kalevela. The poem tells the Finnish creation story. Mr. Armstrong sketched the images onto the panels and local children painted the scenes in brilliant colors that still burst forth. Written records of the Kalevela, in English, are difficult to find. These gorgeous murals, show the creation of the world, populated by dwarfs, princesses, gods, goblins, and a host of other mythical creatures. The Kalevela Murals survived the passing of time hung on the walls of the high school gymnasium. After many years they were taken in by the Historical Society and moved to the Bottle House Museum. The murals alone are worth the trip.