Haavisto Natokynä 080622 Matti Kilponen small
"The pen is mightier than the sword,” Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto stated at the event held at the National Museum on Wednesday evening. Photo: Matti Kilponen, Finnish Heritage Agency

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto donates the ‘NATO pen’ to the National Museum of Finland

Collections, Museums

On Wednesday 8 June, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto donated to the National Museum of Finland the pen used to sign Finland’s NATO application on 17 May 2022. The gold-coloured pen was received at a special event held at the museum. Foreign Minister Haavisto was touched by the request he received for the pen to be added to Finland’s national museum collections.

The National Museum of Finland documents Finland’s state activities, nationally significant historical and cultural turning points, and the various materials and phenomena related to these.

“With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the security policy situation in Finland is changing, and the NATO process initiated as a result of the war is in itself historic. Documenting discussions, meetings, press briefings and decision-making processes is a difficult task, as is finding an object which speaks clearly of a particular phenomenon or event. We recognised that, in a certain way, the NATO process becomes concrete in this pen”, explains Curator Maria Ollila from the National Museum of Finland.

The National Museum of Finland performs ongoing documentation work using a variety of methods, including artefact collection, interviews, photography and video recordings. Its artefact collections comprise around 550 000 objects dating from the Middle Ages up to the present day.

“The NATO pen definitely has a place in our national collections. History is being made all around us all the time. Often this is a slow, layering process which only becomes clear later on. The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the events that have followed are an exceptionally concrete example of a situation in which it seems that history is being written before our very eyes. The objects that have played a part in these significant events have, at the emotional level, a special significance for us when compared, for example, to information or images. These artefacts are important for us to be able to perceive and deal with the emotions we have experienced together,” explains Elina Anttila, Director General of the National Museum of Finland.

"The pen is mightier than the sword – and with this fitting aphorism I now donate this pen to the museum,” Foreign Minister Haavisto stated at the event held at the National Museum on Wednesday evening.

Improving the accessibility and usability of the museum’s collections

The National Museum of Finland has a long tradition of documenting exceptional periods in history. Objects were collected in Helsinki, for example, towards the end of the Civil War in 1918. Between 1956 and 1995, dozens of ethnographic surveys were carried out to document extensive themes such as rural change. In recent years, the social impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been documented from the perspective of sectors that are critical to the functioning of society.

Ukraine-related documentation , carried out together with the Picture Collections of the Finnish Heritage Agency, began on 24 February 2022 immediately after Russian began its invasion of Ukraine. In the first stage, this involved recording Finns’ reactions to Russia’s attack. Later, in May, the museum then took up the theme of community action to support Ukrainians. The results of recent documentation work will be put on display both in the exhibitions of the National Museum and on-line in the Finna service.

“For us, improving the accessibility of national collections and ensuring that they are used as widely as possible is an important task. It is also a key part of our ongoing work to revise our collection strategy. We are paying special attention to digital accessibility and are further developing our Digital Collection website, which offers a curated presentation of our collections. Efforts are also being made to give better consideration to social, cultural and ecological sustainability in the accumulation, storage, care and use of the museum’s collections,” explains Curator Maria Ollila.