The ruin area of Aboa Vetus includes the remains of six medieval buildings through which the route open to visitors runs. The urban character of the area can be seen in the ruins and the old cellars. The Convent Riverfront, one of medieval Turku's main streets, still runs through the museum area today.
The ruins of the museum area were discovered in the excavations of 1995 before the museum itself was opened. The remains of the buildings were kept as they were found. Various historical layers can be seen in the ruins; these were also accepted as a natural part of the museum.
This district was known as the Convent Quarter; home of wealthy merchants and craftsmen who built grand houses of stone and bricks. Items found in the museum's excavations, such as pieces of ceramics belonging to tiled stoves, splinters of expensive glass or a lost gold ring, are signs of luxury only accessible to few. Through careful conservation some of these artefacts have been preserved intact, such as a shoe made for a six-year old child out of cowhide, which was found still assembled on a last. In some cases, copies of the original objects have been made based on fragments found.
With younger visitors in mind, ‘activity islands' have been placed in the exhibition. Here you can experience the techniques used in medieval brick-laying, use a stylus to create a wax picture or play ‘fox games' that were popular in the Middle Ages. Permission to participate and play also extends to the exhibition's miniature models of a 15th-century merchant's house, whose doll and animal characters provide a wonderful insight into life centuries ago.