HANCOCK - Local artist Mary Wright has been saving and preserving saunas one by one to display during FinnFest USA 2013, but she is also spearheading a project to give the saunas a permanent home.
Wright, who lives in Hancock, wants to create an outdoor sauna museum in the Copper Country, which would be only the second such museum in the world. The other is in Finland.
"I realized last fall there were a lot of old saunas, more than we could possibly deal with for FinnFest," said Wright, adding that even for FinnFest the saunas will be a "stand-out feature." "Every other day I find out about a new one.
Daily Mining Gazette/Scott Viau
Norman Arkin and his fiancee Mary Wright examine a sauna that will be used as part of FinnFest USA?2013. Wright’s ultimate goal is to create a sauna museum she hopes will attract people far and wide.
"The sauna museum will be the only one in the Western Hemisphere. It'll be a big draw."
An exact location is still to be determined for the museum, but Wright would like to see it in the City of Hancock, or possibly near the Quincy Mine. She's garnered support from local leaders as well, including State Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet.
"Mary has been doing a wonderful job up there promoting FinnFest, and this sauna museum is something that's going to be a continuing draw for the history of the area," Dianda said. "... It's very important we try to get everybody on board with that because it's part of our heritage."
To help out with either the sauna museum or the FinnFest sauna project, call Wright at 906-361-5548.
Another of Wright's projects, "The Story Line," is featured in a documentary film called "Yoopera!," which will be screened to the public during FinnFest. As part of the project, people in the community, mostly kids from local schools, wrote a one-page story about an immigrant ancestor.
The stories were then transferred to fabric and hung from clotheslines to honor the ancestor. The project was part of a promotion for "Rockland the Opera," the production of which is the highlight of "Yoopera!"
For more information on the documentary and "The Story Line" project, visit yooperamovie.com. For a full schedule of FinnFest events, including the Yoopera! screening, visit finnfestusa2013.org. The festival, which is expected to draw thousands of people, is set for June 19-23.