Collections and collection services
The Helsinki City Museum records life in Helsinki into its collections with items ranging from candy wrappers to square pianos, calling cards to trams and works of art to building parts – with a treasure of one million photographs of Helsinki.
The collections mainly grow through donations and documentation of the present time. Each acquisition is carefully considered as the collection is already quite extensive in many parts and storage space is limited. The majority of the collection is processed in the new collection centre, opened in 2017. Only a fraction of the collection is presented in exhibitions at any given time. High-resolution photographs from the vast collection can be browsed and used freely in the Helsinkiphotos.fi service. Items and other treasures of the collections can be browsed online in the Finna service. Prints can be ordered from the Picture Browsery.
The collections do not only include old items; documenting the present-day life is just as important. As a result, the collection now includes a representative selection of plastic bags from the 1970s, for example. In recent years, the museum has been photographing and interviewing fishermen in the Vanhankaupunginkoski rapids, merchants and customers in the Hakaniemi Market Hall and visitors of the Tuska festival, among others. The museum’s own photographers document today’s changing and disappearing objects, new phenomena, and different kinds of events.
Helsinki is the connecting factor in all of the city museum collections. Each item or photograph in the collection tells its own, tiny part of the history and changing city environment of Helsinki and its residents. The goal of preserving, researching and exhibiting the collections is to bring the stories within them to future Helsinkians.
What do the collections contain and what is collected in them?
The Helsinki City Museum collections comprise of more than one million museum items. The museum’s collections policy (in Finnish) gives more details about the contents and accrual of collections.
Browse the collections
Are you a researcher or looking for pictures for a publication? Would you like to have a picture of your street during your grandmother’s days or a snapshot of the playground where you used to play? The City Museum Picture Archives are a public archive whose services can be used by anyone. Learn more about the museum’s Picture Browsery.
Museum items, original photographs, and artwork are lent to professionally managed museums based on the professional ethics rules in museum operations. Read more about item loans.
Do you want to make a donation to the museum collection?
You can donate certain items, photographs and other materials to the museum. Read more about donations.
The work of the museum’s conservators is aimed at keeping the museum collection items in as good a condition as possible for future generations. Read more about conservation in the city museum.