Finnish Museum of Natural History

An endangered Vantaa resident: What on earth is the Hylochares cruentatus? foyer exhibition at the Natural History Museum


Halavasepikkä (Hylochares cruentatus) Henrik Håkanssonin elokuvasta THE BEETLE. Kuva: IHME Contemporary Art Festival

Do you know this endangered Vantaa resident? This year, the IHME Contemporary Art Festival is putting the spotlight on Vantaa’s most famous beetle: the Hylochares cruentatus. The species thrives around former Vantaajoki River bed and is not known to live anywhere else in the world.

You can get to know the star of the Festival in the foyer of the Natural History Museum 15 May–10 June. Be amazed by the tiny beetles on display from the museum’s collection and admire the winged beetle as it takes flight – a sight captured by high-speed camera and invisible to the naked eye!

At the same time, you can view the photography exhibition, Beetles in the Spotlight, in the Museum café and the Change in the Air exhibition presenting research on climate change. On Saturday, 19 May, the price of an entrance ticket includes a workshop, which offers a hands-on introduction to the world of insects.

The IHME Festival offers an insect’s eye view

What on earth is the Hylochares cruentatus? foyer exhibition is part of the programme of the IHME Contemporary Art Festival. This year, the Festival is built around the Swedish artist Henrik Håkansson’s film THE BEETLE.

The Hylochares cruentatus beetle ended up in the film made for the Festival thanks to Senior Curator at the Natural History Museum, Professor Jyrki Muona. Muona, who was in charge of the Museum’s beetle collection, was involved in 2004 when a new species of beetle was discovered in the area of the Mätäoja Ditch in Vantaa and of the urban waterway known as the Mätäjoki River in Helsinki. There are estimated to be approximately 10,000 Hylochares cruentatus beetles there – alarmingly few by insect standards. One indicator of the beetle’s endangered status is its vanishing habitat – some species of willow tree that thrive in wetlands – a disappearance partly caused by human actions. In a broader perspective the mass extinction of insect species is a global problem.

In the film THE BEETLE, which premieres at Korjaamo Culture Factory on Friday, 25 May, you can get a close-up view of the movements of the less-than-a-centimetre-long halavasepikkä. The soundtrack by experimental-music pioneer Mika Vainio accentuates the beetle’s mode of existence, which is quite alien to that of human beings. The experience of viewing the film will be carried on in a set of events offering new viewpoints on the increasingly fraught relationship between humankind and the environment.

This year, special consideration has been given to families with children: there are non-stop workshops where you can make your own insect mask or think about climate change in the light of your own memories of the weather. Following the event at Korjaamo on 25–26 May, family-oriented activities will continue in Myyrmäki, Vantaa – the place that Hylochares cruentatus calls home – until 10 June.

The IHME Festival is free and open to all. Full Festival programme:


What on earth is the Hylochares cruentatus? foyer exhibition
Natural History Museum foyer, no entrance ticket required
Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu 13, Helsinki
Open: Tues, Wed and Fri 9–16, Thurs 9–18, Sat 10–17 and Sun 10–16
Entrance to the Museum: 14 / 11 / 7 euros, children under 7 free (not including day care and other groups). Also free entry to Museum card holders.

Exceptional opening times and further information:


Other IHME Contemporary Art Festival events:

25–26 May at Korjaamo (Töölönkatu 51 b) Fri 25 May, 16–24, Sat 26 May, 12–02: THE BEETLE film, discussions, film and video art, Festival clubs, workshops

Sunday 27 May IHME Workshop Mätäjoki Armada (Kartanonhaka park area, Kartanonkaari, Kannelmäki) exact time to be announced: IHME and the artist Antti Laitinen’s bark-boat workshop is part of the Mätäjoki Festival in Kannelmäki (Kartanonkaari, Helsinki)

Sun 3 June IHME in Myyrmäki (Jokiuoman puisto park, Ruskokuja 2, Vantaa) 12–20: IHME at Louhela Jam festival in Vantaa: programme includes open-air screening of THE BEETLE, nature tours with Professor, insect specialist Jyrki Muona, and a (nonstop) insect-mask workshops for the whole family