Collections and collection services
Helsinki City Museum records and studies Helsinki and life in Helsinki. The collections feature items ranging from plastic bags to square pianos, from business cards to trams and from works of art to building parts – and a treasure trove of a million photographs from Helsinki.
The collections grow through both donations and active documentation of the present time. Every acquisition is considered carefully, as the collections are already extensive and the storage space is limited. The collections are maintained and stored in the collection centre and the Museum’s Picture Browsery. Only a fraction of the collection is presented in exhibitions. Items and other treasures of the collections can be browsed online in the Finna search service. High-resolution photographs can be browsed in the Helsinkiphotos.fi service.
The collections do not just include old items, as documenting the present day is just as important. The Museum’s researchers and photographers document today’s phenomena and various events, as well as changing and disappearing objects. In recent years, the Museum has been documenting aspects such as the everyday operations of home care workers, multiculturalism at schools and day care centres, the 2017 mayoral election and the new city districts Jätkäsaari and Kalasatama. The coronavirus spring in Helsinki has also been documented already.
What do the collections feature and what is collected in them?
Helsinki City Museum’s collections feature more than 1,500,000 items, works of art, photographs and other museum objects. Every object featured in the collections says something about the history of Helsinki and its residents, as well as the changing urban environment.
The Museum’s collection policy (in Finnish) gives more details about the contents of the collections.
You can browse, download and use high-resolution photographs from the City Museum’s collections in the Helsinkiphotos.fi service. In addition to photographs, you can examine archive materials, items, building-related materials and works of art in the Finna search service.
Are you researching changes in the cityscape, illustrating a historical account, or perhaps designing theatre costumes? Would you like to have a picture of your home street during your grandmother’s days or to make a print of a snapshot of the playground where you used to play? Read about the services of the Picture Browsery.
The museum actively documents the present time. Helsinki City Museum began from a project to document the present day in 1906, when the Helsinki City Board of Antiquities hired photographer Signe Brander to record the changing city and life in it. Read more about the Museum’s present-day documentation (in Finnish).
Museum items, original photographs, and works of art are lent to professionally managed museums. Read more about collection loans.
The work of the Museum’s conservators is aimed at keeping the collection items, works of art and photographs in as good a condition as possible for future generations. Read more about conservation in the City Museum.
Do you wish to make a donation to the museum collection?
You can donate items, photographs and other materials to the museum. Read more about donations.