Helsinki houses around 80 museums, and exploring them is such a treat. The sheer diversity in their collection can amaze anyone as you can find museums of all types, right from arts, photography, and design to even botanical museums. They also have open-air museums that display the open world. A lot of free museums in Helsinki have restaurants and cafes where you can relax and refresh.
From classic Finnish art to contemporary international art museums, the art museums in Helsinki offer something exciting all year round. The contemporary art scene in Finland truly embraces everything from experimental initiatives to commercial art galleries.
Helsinki is a historical and cultural city with several art exhibitions and museums. The museums across the city can match every taste and give insight to each aspect of the culture, history, and arts of Finland. So, without further ado, here are some of the best museums in Helsinki.
Table of Contents
- 1 Top 10 BEST Art Museums in Helsinki (Finland)
- 2 Check out these activities in Helsinki
Top 10 BEST Art Museums in Helsinki (Finland)
Ateneum is the well-known Helsinki art museum and houses vibrant Finnish art. The images you spot at Ateneum Art Museum in Helsinki, Finland are ingrained in the combined memory of Finnish residents. The Ateneum art museum also houses the beloved works in the collections which date back from the 19th century to the modern age.
The well-known exhibitions of international and Finnish art open new points of view in the future and the past. The guest stars of the temporary exhibitions have covered names like Carl Larsson, Tove Jansson, Helene Schjerfbeck, and Pablo Picasso.
The Stories of Finnish Art exhibition commemorates the collections which are on display until 2020. The exhibition leads visitors through the Finnish art development from 1809 to 1960s.
There are international and Finnish masterpieces on display side by side from collections, including Le Corbusier Two Women (1939), Bathing Man by Edvard Munch (1907-08), Eero Jarnefelt Under the Yoke (1893), etc. Explore the works of art you love and fall in love with new works. Ateneum houses all kinds of events every month. This Helsinki museum organizes lectures, workshops, clubs, and guided tours.
Where to stay: Best hotels in Helsinki, Finland
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is one of the museums that fall under the Finnish Museum of Natural History, as part of the University of Helsinki. The building houses the beautiful Helsinki city Museum on Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu and Arkadiankatu, in the heart of Helsinki. Built-in 1913, the Museum of Natural History Helsinki was originally built for a Russian cadet school, Alexander Lyceum, where students were given military kind of uniform.
The building was designed by M.G. Chayko, and Lev P. Chichko, the Russian architects, and its architecture are flamboyant, even the stairs. The building turned a Finnish cadet school post-Finnish independence in 1918.
The museum has the collection of taxidermied skeletons, animals, minerals, and ruins of ancient mammals. The first floor exhibits the bones and upper-level exhibit the nature of the world, Finnish nature, and evolution of life.
In front of the Finnish National Museum, the moose status became its symbol. The lobby hall is covered by the African elephant. The museum also houses a souvenir shop and a café. The museum covers the floor area of over 8000 sq. m.
Kiasma museum houses contemporary art on the Mannerheimintie region of Helsinki. Kiasma eludes the basic concept of Steven Holl, an architect. Kiasma houses the Finnish National Gallery, and it also hosts contemporary art collection. It is aimed to exhibit contemporary art and to promote it.
In 1990, the contemporary art collection started under the title “Museum of Contemporary Art.” Ateneum houses the collection in its previous stages. In 1992, an architectural design competition was held to design architecture for a contemporary art museum.
In 2011-2013, the Kiasma museum attracted whopping 160,000 to 180,000 visitors each year. In September 2014, Kiasma was closed for repair work, and in March 2015, it opened again. It greeted over 310,000 visitors in 2016. Its collections hosts work by over 8000 artists, such as Reetta, Ahonen, Aiha, Aken, Martti, Andersson, Jan van, Antonio Rotta, Anders Gustaf, Bernard, Baron, Nicolas Berchem, Ismo Kajender, etc.
Helsinki Art Museum
Helsinki Art Museum of HAM is located in the Tennispalatsi region of Kamppi in Helsinki, Finland. In 2015, the museum rebranded as HAM and reopened after renovations. The City of Helsinki owns and operates the museum. It has the art collection of the city, including around 9000 artworks. More than half of these works are being displayed in streets, parks, libraries, and schools.
This Helsinki museum hosts a permanent exhibition of Tove Jansson’s works, including two major frescoes created for the Helsinki City Hall restaurant. Tennis Palace is the flagship address of HAM, where it is planned to attract contemporary and modern art in its exhibitions.
Visitors can explore about International Dimension and Finnish Modernism these days, which showcase the highlights of design, architecture, photography, visual art, along with art pieces by the leading architect Tove Jansson, which are dedicated to her works and life.
Helsinki City Museum
The Helsinki City Museum displays and documents the complete history of Helsinki. The museum is aimed to record and uphold the materialistic, spiritual, and architectural heritage of Finnish capital. The museum houses the daily life and personal memories of the residents in this city. It also serves as a Uusimaa’s central museum in order to steer and promote its activities in this region.
This Finland museum is located in the oldest blocks of the city next to the Senate Square. It also hosts four other museums across the city – Burgher’s House, Hakasalmi Villa, Tram Museum, and Worker Housing Museum. Entry to all museums in this area is free.
The collections in this museum have around 1 million pictures, especially the well-known pictures by Signe Brander, which date back to the early 20th century and over 450,000 items. It is truly said that the Helsinki City Museum is the only museum in the world that focuses completely on Helsinki.
It is located at the corner of Senate Square in the oldest quarters of Helsinki. This museum offers new perspectives on daily life and the history of this city, along with several types of atmospheres and spaces and heart-warming details.
Helsinki Design Museum
The Design Museum of Helsinki is devoted to the exhibition of both foreign and Finnish design, including fashion design, industrial, and graphic design. The building is located on Korkeavuorenkatu Street in Kaartinkaupunki and is owned through Senate Properties by the Republic of Finland.
It is a 140 years old museum and is one of the world’s oldest, founded in 1873. It has operated in its premises, and an old school was designed by Gustaf Nyström, an architect, in 1894 in a neo-Gothic manner since the year 1978.
The museum is renamed to Designmuseo (Design Museum) from Taideteollisuusmuseo as the original name was too complex and too long. The museum also houses shops and a café. The Museum of Finnish Architecture is located on the same city block.
The museum houses the permanent exhibition dedicated to Finnish design history from the year 1870 to the present day, along with an area for changing exhibitions. The permanent collection of museum houses around 40000 drawings, 75000 objects, and 100,000 drawings.
It also arranges international exhibitions and publishes exhibition catalogs and books. From the home page of the museum, there is an access to various web exhibitions on the designs of Finland, including the production of Marimekko, Arabian Factory, and designers Oiva Toikka and Kaj Frank.
Where to stay: Best hotels in Helsinki, Finland
Helsinki Tram Museum
Operated by the Helsinki City Museum, the Helsinki Tram Museum houses an old tram where you can take a seat and explore the city in yesteryear. Sit in the driver’s seat and let your imaginations go wild while studying old tram tickets and watching films. You can also stamp a tram ticket in traditional techniques.
You can enter this museum for free. Located at Korjaamo Culture Factory in Töölö, the Tram Museum also hosts private events. Korjaamo also hoses hundreds of cultural events throughout the year, including visual arts, theater, and music concerts. You can enjoy the meal at a restaurant when getting to the Tram Museum.
Before the introduction of electric trams in the late 1800s, the Ruusula villa quarters had horse stables for tram horses with washing house, wagon shed, saddle workshop and oil storage unit. When electric trams started operating, the site was turned into the recent tram depot.
Now houses the Tram Museum, the tram depot was completed in 1900 and by architect Valdemar Aspelin. With simple design elements and flat saddleback roof, the brick complex represents the typical industrial architecture from the late 19th century. Originally, there were large doors at both sides of the complex to allow the passage of wagons.
Where to stay: Best hotels in Helsinki, Finland
Seurasaari Open-air Museum
The Seurasaari Open-Air Museum welcomes you to feel the rural vibes of the Finnish countryside. It is the best place to experience true life in the past. It is located only a few kilometers away from the heart of Helsinki on a serene green island. The museum houses 87 different buildings, and each of them are different from its province of Finland.
The island is a peaceful oasis located in the heart of the city and at the museum; you can explore the old-world charm of Finland in the cottages, manors, and farmlands of the last four centuries, which have been moved from different parts of Finland.
These traditional buildings were complemented with old-world furniture, objects, and dress. The open-air museum is a great visual treat and will definitely open your eyes to rural Finnish history. These cottages, farmlands, and traditional buildings give a beautiful view to the Finnish countryside and how life was from the 18th to 20th century in Seursaari Island.
Finnish National Gallery
Finnish National Gallery is the largest art museum in Finland. It houses the Museum of Contemporary Art, Ateneum Art Museum, the Sinebrychoff Art Museum, and Kiasma. The functions of the organization are supported by the services department and administration, and the conservation department, the art museum development department, and Kehys.
The Finnish National Gallery is aimed to promote the cultural heritage of Finnish visual arts further to improve the significance of visual culture in the contemporary era and to further the art museum domain. They also develop and maintain the largest collection of art of Finland and the research and knowledge archives of their field.
The Ateneum Art Museum in Helsinki exhibits the art collection of the Finnish National Gallery with great focus on the most anticipated Finnish classics. Ateneum is known as the best art museum in Finland and houses the Finnish Art. In the collection, the most anticipated works cover the periods from the 19th century to Modernism.
The well-regarded special exhibition of international art and Finnish art opens up new points of view to the present and the past. The collection also includes sketchbooks, letters, photographs, and postcards on display in the archive hall, which illustrate the artists’ daily lives.
National Museum of Finland
The National Museum of Finland illustrates the history of Finland from the Stone Age to current through cultural history and objects. This building is designed on the Finnish National Romantic style and is located in central Helsinki. It belongs to the National Board of Antiques, which falls under the Ministry of Education and Culture.
The entrance hall ceiling of the museum has ceiling frescoes in the epic Kalevala theme, which is painted by none other than Akseli Gallen-Kallela. You can visit here without the entry fee. Painted in 1928, the frescoes are painted in the Finnish Pavilion in 1900.
The National Museum building was designed by Armas Lindgren, Hermen Gesellius, and Eliel Saarinen. The building’s appearance reflects the prehistoric castles and churches of Finland.
The architecture belongs to the interior and national romanticism to art nouveau. The construction of the museum lasted from 1905 to 1910 and opened in 1916. It became the Finnish National Museum in 1917 after independence. The museum was reopened after the last renovation in July 2000.
The collections also include the artifacts of Mesa Verde from Colorado’s cliff dwellings.