Are you into weird modern art, or maybe you prefer classical paintings that are never out of taste? In any case, Helsinki has a lot to offer for an art lover. Let us dig into the most visited museums in Helsinki city.
I will start with my personal favorite: the Kiasma museum. Kiasma introduced me to modern art many years ago. Honestly, I was not a fan of contemporary exhibitions, they seemed hard to understand and distant, but that was before Kiasma.
This place is the heart of symbolic art. The building itself is well designed, and the corridors inside are probably the most photographed places in Kiasma. The museum is also smartly situated, so you can see the attractions of the main street just walking through Kiasma and watching into windows. You can do the same thing while enjoying a cup of coffee in Kiasma cafe downstairs, with windows overviewing the central street. There is also a terrace with a beautiful view of the city on the upper floor, and proceeding to the 5th floor, you can discover an art library, mostly concentrated on modern art. Talking about art, Kiasma usually picks the most imaginative artists and lets you not just be an observer, but also a part of an exhibition or even an artist yourself. Let me just say, every time I visit Kiasma, it managed to astonish me with something. Maybe now it is your turn?
Probably the best-known museum in Finland is situated right next to the central railway station, so there is no way you can miss it. No wonder why it is so known; Ateneum beholds the biggest and oldest art collection in the whole country. The museum will take you through the art history of Finland, showing some Finnish masterworks and also internationally known classics. Ateneum also holds exhibitions of big names, like Pablo Picasso and Amedeo Modigliani, so if there are any great art pieces in town, you can surely find them in Ateneum. Besides that, the museum operates different kinds of events, for example, workshops and art-related lectures. But to me, Ateneum is a place to meet beloved classics. Besides visiting temporary exhibitions, I always find time to admire the paintings I studied in high school and desperately tried painting them in the art class. That is why nowadays I never miss Robert Ekman's "Ilmatar" and Hugo Simberg's "The Wounded Angel," so as Albert Edelfelt's "Queen Bianca." These are true Finnish gems, try to spot them.
My favorite place in Ateneum is a room dedicated to Kalevala, the Finnish national epic. There you can find well known "Aino-taru" and "Lemminkäinen's Mother" by Akseli Gallen-Kallela, portraying the events of mythology.
Let us meet the place with an interesting history, fascinating architecture, and engaging exhibitions. Starting with history, Amos Anderson was a Finnish patron of the arts. In 1965 a museum dedicated to him opened in his place, which was moved and reopened as Amos Rex in 2018. The museum became a stylish gem built into an older building. The exhibition rooms are situated under the square, and the square itself tells you there is something outlandish going on. You can notice peculiar domes spread among the square. You can walk upon them and lurk inside the windows on their tops. These domes brought an urban touch to the surroundings and made the square a cool place to hang out.
Amos Rex is concentrated around the latest modern art, using technology to present it. You could encounter exhibitions of Studio Drift and teamLab, but also older art pieces by a known surrealist René Magritte. By the way, the place is known for supporting their exhibitions with themed concerts or related movies. One time they even constructed a cafe just for a time of the exhibition. If you are into anything fresh and contemporary, I am sure you will enjoy Amos Rex.
As most national museums, this is a place to learn about local history. The part of permanent exhibitions is broad, starting from prehistory and taking you through decades and centuries to modern times. Besides that, there are also smaller temporary expositions held in the museum. You can find here everything that is expected from a national museum. Besides that, the thing I like the most about the National Museum of Finland is the building itself, built in National Romantic Style, and the frescoes on the ceilings. Those beauties are portraying the Finnish national epic named "Kalevala." Done with finesse and recognizable style of Akseli Gallen-Kallela, they are an attraction on their own. You can observe them in the main hall; therefore there is no need for a ticket to see the frescoes.
Another thing I enjoy in the museum is the music room. It is a narrow corridor where you can listen to local metal bands. You heard me right, Finland is famous for its big metal scene so why not introduce it to people in the National Museum? In case you are visiting with kids, remember to go up to visit Vintti. Vintti is a workshop, where kids can try themselves everything that was everyday life in the country, like weaving rag rugs or sitting on a horse. It is a fun and interactive way of learning about local history, especially for children.
As a famous quote goes
art is something that makes you breathe with a different kind of happiness
So, at least for this experience, you should take a stroll through the famous museums of Helsinki city. You might feel surprised, intimidated, thoughtful or confused, or something else and unique. In any case, the baggage of emotions is guaranteed.
Did you like the travel story?
Get more! Subscribe to our monthly inspiration newsletter.