National Museum of Finland

The National Museum of Finland (Suomen Kansallismuseo) opened its doors in 1916, shortly before independence. Its mission was to exhibit, explain, and celebrate the history of the country, a task that it has continued to serve ever since.

Somewhat old-fashioned and random in its presentation, it is nonetheless an excellent place to learn about great and often traumatic events that have shaped modern Finland, and also to see – through clothing, furniture, toys, printed material and archive film – how life for ordinary Finns has changed over time.

The museum building was designed in romantic, historic style by a partnership that included Eliel Saarinen (1873–1950), and was completed in 1910. Eliel Saarinen also designed the remarkable Helsinki Central Railway Station, which was completed in 1919, foreshadowing Art Deco. In 1923 he went to the USA, where his son Eero Saarinen (1910–61) went on to become one of the leading architects of the International Style.

The National Museum also stands close to another celebrated piece of modern architecture: the Finlandia Hall (1971), the congress and concert hall designed by Alvar Aaalto. (Finlandia Hall)

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