Sights to See in Helsinki
Suomen Kansallismuseo (The National Museum)

Founded in 1660, Helsinki is a relatively young city by European standards. After all, it became the capital only about 200 years ago. Despite this newness, as a country, Finland itself is ancient. This contrast is nowhere better explained and demonstrated than at The National Musuem, or the Suomen Kansallismuseo as it's known to the natives.

Separated into different sections, the museum offers displays covering aspects of the country's ancient past up to the very latest features that define this vibrant, modern metropolis.

Even the building itself carries this theme.

Though the external appearance is indeed very much that of a medieval church, it was in fact built in 1910 and opened to the public in 1916. Designed by the world-renowned architect Gottlieb Eliel Saarinen (1873 - 1950), it offers a comprehensive look into Finland.

The National Museum of Finnland houses a broad array of archaeological, cultural and ethnological artifacts that cover a period from thousands of years ago up to the present-day. There are permanent exhibits, both objects and animated video, showing the geography and geology of the region, and how it's changed over the millennia.

In the Prehistory of Finland section of the Permanent Exhibition, archaeology lovers will find in-depth and simple-to-follow explanations of how the country emerged from the Ice Age thousands of years ago. And, unfortunately, how it will be swallowed up again in another ice age at some time in the future.

Stone Age artifacts abound in The Land and Its People, showing how the natives evolved over the centuries. Some objects will look familiar, since humans have a common type of mind and body and make objects to fit their needs. Yet each culture is unique, and none more so than that of Finland.

The land itself forced many distinctive adaptations, from early snowshoes to the one-of-a-kind animal husbandry practices that are explained.

In the Treasure Troves section those with a strong interest for cultural history will find a variety of objects showing both Finland's aristocratic past and its democratic present. Displays of jewels, clothes and armor give the visitor a feel for how Finland was both similar to and different from its southern neighbors of Europe.

Medals, silver work, and weapons show how these innovators of the north created their own take on familiar objects.

Paintings, sculpture and much more will keep art lovers entranced for hours. Atop, and alongside, the vaulted central hall there are numerous frescoes that will also delight those interested in fine art.

Painted by Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865-1931), the displays demonstrate themes that will be familiar to fans of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, who drew on similar sources for inspiration. Many depict scenes drawn from the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala, drawn from work done for the Paris World Fair of 1900.

In one section there are a great many displays showing the political development of this society, from the Middle Ages through its dominance by Sweden and Russia to its full independence in the early 20th century. Visitors will find a fascinating look at the countryside prior to industrialization.

Later displays show how Helsinki and Finland have become world leaders in technology.

What is Finland?  It's a combination of the old and new and everything in between.

That's Finland, and that's the Suomen Kansallismuseo the National Museum of Finnland.

Visit Helsinki and see Suomen Kansallismuseo (The National Museum)


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Sights to See in Helsinki - Suomen Kansallismuseo (The National Museum)

Page Updated 7:09 PM Thursday 3/14/2013