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.
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.
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.
Since the 1980's the museums' own researchers have
enlarged the collections with objects from such places as India and
Central Russia, with the focus on present-day culture. The aim of the
purchases is to fulfil research needs and the museums' exhibition
requirements. The primary way to collect objects is through researchers
in the course of their fieldwork, as the objects can be then documented
and listed reliably.
Cooperation projects with other researchers doing
fieldwork have become increasingly important. Fieldwork material has
been donated by, for example, professor emeritus of cultural
anthropology Matti Sarmela (Thailand, 1970-80) and professor emeritus of
South-Asian studies Asko Parpola (Agnicayana veda ritual, South India,
FINNA is a search
service for Finnish archives, libraries and museums that has replaced the
Museot Online portal. FINNA is part of the National Digital Library (KDK)
project. More information on the collections of the Museum of Cultures that can
be searched and browsed using the portal is available here.