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The Ethnological Collections

The National Museum's ethnological collections consist of some 90 000 objects extensively presenting and describing Finnish culture. In addition to the National Museum, items of the collection are on display in other museums and vernacular buildings maintained by the National Board of Antiquities. The most significant parts of the collections are result of the collection of artefacts and objects carried out in the 19th century. They are based on the collections of the Ethnographic Museum of the Student Corporations of the University of Helsinki, which was founded in 1876 following Swedish examples; the collection formed over half of the State Historical Museum's collections, which were placed under the authority of the Archaeological Commission in 1893. For example, the textile and dress collections, of the Viipuri Student Corporation, which were collected in Southern Karelia and on the Karelian Isthmus, are unique.

The time scale of the collections extends from the 16th century to the present day: the oldest object being the ornate Rusko tankard from 1542. The majority of the objects represent Finnish peasant culture and traditional sources of livelihood, but the collections are also being continuously extended with newer industrially manufactured consumer items.

At present, additions to the collections come through contributions and purchases, for example when exhibitions are organized. In addition to making additions to the collections, curators also work in expert positions dealing with issues of cultural heritage and assist with questions regarding collections and projects.

The National Museum also has a significant Sámi collection, containing some 2 600 objects. Most of the objects were collected between 1902 and 1939 during extensive collection expeditions to Lapland.


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Last updated 15.5.2014
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