Two pen points and a small knife were hidden in the secret compartment of the wooden box (VA246:1–4). Photo by Marco Melander/Finnish Heritage Agency.

The collection of the Prison Museum

The history of the Finnish prison service and its administration.

The collection of the Prison Museum was established in 1893 when Suomen vankeinhoitomiesten yhdistys (Association of Prison Officers of Finland) decided to establish a prison service museum. The idea was inspired by a French exhibition on prison service, which members of the association had visited during an international prison service conference held in St Petersburg. The accumulation of the museum collection was started immediately after the foundation of the association. Currently, the collection comprises approximately 10,000 artefacts.

The collection tells the history of the Finnish prison service and its administration. The collection includes artefacts related to prisoners’ work activities, education, health care and clothing, artefacts related to disciplinary actions and supervision aimed at prisoners, and artefacts related to the activities of prison staff. A significant part of the collection is comprised of a set of artefacts which were added when Hämeenlinna County Prison in Linnanniemi ended its operations in 1993.

The collection, owned by the Criminal Sanctions Agency and managed by Hämeenlinna City Museum, was transferred to the Finnish Heritage Agency and National Museum of Finland in 2019. The collection is on display in Hämeenlinna’s former county prison building, i.e. the Prison of the National Museum of Finland. Finland’s largest prison museum is open to the public in summer. The artefacts can also be explored online in the Finna service.

Additional information:

Anni Minkkinen, tel. +358 (0) 295 33 6323,