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History is here!


Finland deserves the annex of the National Museum right now, writes Director General Elina Anttila.

These are historical times! – this is how many people have described our state of being during the pandemic. The feeling of becoming part of history is something special. At best, future researchers may recognise our time as the turning point towards a more sustainable culture. On the other hand, they may also recognise this moment as the origin of numerous escalating problems. When life finally opens up once again, we would do well to keep in mind that history is in our hands: will the world continue its tightrope act with social and ecological sustainability, or can we make permanent changes to our culture? Crises have a tendency of making people realise what is truly important. Finland has only one National Museum. It has served as a sounding board for our culture and the change thereof throughout the different stages of our history, ever since the 19th century. Today, the museum contributes actively to the building of a culturally sustainable society, engaging in diverse interaction both nationally and internationally. The results of our efforts and the role of the National Museum of Finland have been deemed so important to our society that the realisation of the museum’s long-planned expansion has been included in the current Government Programme.

If the building of the annex that won the New National architecture competition, Atlas, begins on schedule, the new part of the museum could open in 2025. The resulting impressive museum complex in the very heart of Helsinki will serve as a landmark for both international tourists and the vitality of Finland’s diverse culture.

The concept of the New National utilises the entirety of the National Museum’s expansive plot and the museum’s existing strengths. The historical National Museum building adorned with the frescoes of Gallen-Kallela and the story of Finland that its permanent exhibitions chronicle will be an integral part of the new museum experience as well. They reflect the strong roots of our culture. The modern annex will, meanwhile, house a large, underground exhibition and event space that will serve as an ideal venue for both Finnish and international temporary exhibitions focusing on various aspects of culture and history. In addition to serving the museum’s own productions, the facilities will also be made available for external events and activities. The public’s opportunities to participate in the museum’s operations will increase even further with the large yard area opened for community-oriented activities providing a better venue for participatory activities.

Finland deserves its Atlas right now. To quote head of design Samuli Miettinen: During these times, the concept and operating model of the museum as a promoter of the common good is an especially important builder of memory and dreams throughout society. In addition to having a major impact on employment, the construction of the annex will contribute to the building of an intellectually sustainable Finland. A living relationship with cultural heritage, responsibility for the future and the broad-mindedness resulting from cultural dialogue serve as a foundation for essential cultural change, conflict prevention and crisis survival.

Elina Anttila
Director General
The National Museum of Finland