Museum of Finnish Architecture Helsinki
The fundamental task of the Museum of Finnish Architecture, one of Finland's national museums, is to collect and distribute knowledge about architecture and increase its understanding among the general public as well as experts. It is an information centre for topical architectural practice, research and critique, oriented toward the future even as it records history. The museum builds a bridge between architecture and its users, and on the other hand it is a link in the interaction of professionals. It focusses on post-1900 architecture.
The museum, established in 1956, has large collections of drawings and photographs, a number of models and an extensive library. It organises exhibitions in Finland and abroad, publishes books and arranges lectures. The picture collections are in charge of the Architecture Archive, the oldest unit, whose beginnings are in the photographic collection of the Finnish Association of Architects founded in 1949.
The Library, originally a part of the Archive, became a separate unit in 1963. Exhibitions have always been the most prominent and far-reaching undertaking of the museum, and from the very start, there has been a vigorous programme of international tours.
The Research unit, established in 1976, is in charge of the museum's research, lectures and special programmes. Publication of books is nowadays assigned to the Publication unit formed in 2001. The publications are sold in the museum bookshop.
The national and international collaboration programmes of the museum include permanent institutions like the Alvar Aalto Medal, the Alvar Aalto Symposium, the Finland Builds (now Finnish Architecture) exhibition, the International Confederation of Architectural Museums ICAM and the International working-party for documentation and conservation of buildings, monuments and sites of the Modern Movement DOCOMOMO.
The Museum of Finnish Architecture is one of the oldest of its kind in the world. It was established both to record Finnish built culture and to meet the international demand of material concerning Finnish architecture which had gained an enormous fame by the 1950s.
The building: The building now housing the Museum of Finnish Architecture was constructed for the Learned Societies in 1899. The idea of a building for the Societies was kindled at the beginning of the 1890s, the site was reserved in 1896, and the drawings were made by Magnus Schjerfbeck, chief architect at the National Board of Public Building. The planned Neo-Renaissance building with a cubic central volume and two wings was not realized as such; only the central part was constructed, including library, assembly hall with gallery, studies and a monumental staircase which takes a third of the building.
Several efforts have been made to complete the building. In 1907 the library was proposed to be extended to a semi-circular annex on the courtyard side. In 1922 Schjerfbeck made a new proposal for extension, this time modifying the original wing idea. Neither plan was realized. The Learned Societies moved to the House of the Estates (Säätytalo) in 1931, and the Kasarmikatu 24 building was assigned to the Gymnastics Department of the University of Helsinki. The former assembly hall was filled with gymnastic equipment, and showers were built in the attic. When the Faculty of Sports and Health Sciences moved to Jyväskylä at the beginning of the 1970s the building was vacated. In 1981 the Museum of Finnish Architecture moved there after repairs and restorations from an old wooden villa in Puistokatu. The latest effort of extension was the Temporary Exhibitions Hall which was to connect the two museums located on the same site, the Museum of Finnish Architecture and the Design Museum. There was an architectural competition for the hall in 1987. The winning proposal placed the exhibition hall underground. The extension was not constructed, and the completion of the 100-year-old building is still pending. Sandwich is a collaboration between the Design Museum Helsinki and the Museum of Finnish Architecture. The project aims to create innovative events and take activities out of the museums into the public space. The name Sandwich alludes to the long term goal of a new building between the museums.
The functions of the Museum of Finnish Architecture are located on the three floors of the building as follows: Ground floor: ticket office, bookshop, library, offices, 1st floor: changing exhibitions, 2nd floor: permanent exhibition, architecture archive, offices.