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The Collections of the Museum of Cultures

Ethnographical collections from all continents

The Museum of Cultures holds the ethnographic collections and Finno-Ugrian collections of the National Museum of Finland, which in total number around 40 000 objects. Since the beginning of the 19th century, Finnish explorers and scientists, missionaries, seafarers, art collectors, adventurers and later development co-operation workers have added the collections.

The ethnographic collections contain objects from all continents. The founding object in this collection is the rare Salish ceremonial blanket from the North-West coast of America, catalogued in 1828.

Finno-Ugrian collections

Objects for the Finno-Ugrian collections have been gathered from all Finno-Ugrian nations. The most valuable objects from the late 19th century and early 20th century were collected on expeditions whose purpose was to discover the origins of the Finnish language and people. Today the rare objects serve also those Finno-Ugrian nations whose identity is pressurised by Russian language and culture.

Internationally known gatherers

The cornerstones of the early collections are the materials collected by internationally known scientists during their expeditions. Among them are for example arabist G. A. Wallin (1840s), the explorer of Siberia M. A. Castrén (1840-50s) and social anthropologists Edward Westermarck (Morocco, 1898-1913), Gunnar Landtman (Papua New Guinea, 1910-12) and Rafael Karsten (South America, 1920-50s).

The collections are continuously enlarged with both donations and purchases. Among the notable donations are Eila Kivekäs' African collection, obtained during the 1970-90s, and the Asian collection of set designer Tero Kiiskinen.

The Museum of Cultures

Aleut headdress from North America. Photo by Matti Huuhka

Belt cloth from Central Russia. Photo by Matti Huuhka


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Last updated 12.7.2012
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