The National Archives in Helsinki is situated in a beautiful building which blends into its surroundings so well, that you might easily bypass it. Take a few moments to step inside to see the unique contrast of the 1890’s and the 1970’s architecture.
This below, used to be the entrance. These days it is only used on special occasions. The old part of the building was built in 1889 and designed by professor C.G. Nyström.
The statue trio at the top of the old entrance is called Three Geniuses and it was designed by C.E. Sjöstrand. In the middle, the standing figurine, symolizes Finland. The figures on the sides symbolize history research (right) and scripture (left). The statue trio which you see these days is actually a copy. The building was badly damaged in the bombing of Helsinki in February of 1944 and of the three statues, the middle figurine lost her head.
Now to enter the building, you must go up these stairs below and turn to the entrance on the right. If you go right up the stairs, you will see a canteen type restaurant, Café Hausen.
Once you have entered, you will find yourself in the entrance hall. This part of the building was built in the 1970’s and designed by professor Olof Hansson. It looks like time has come to a standstill there. You have to leave your coats and bags in the lockers provided. Smaller lockers are on the left, on the library side of the hall, and bigger ones on the right.
This mural was made by artist Tor Arne in 1974. You can see it inside the library.
These days I can appreciate 70’s architecture and design but I do love the old side more.
Just imagine how before electricity, daylight was sacred for the researchers who came here. It was the same at the National Library, also found nearby.
Anyone can stop on this balcony for a break.
See there – the entrance to the research library.
Unfortunately, you do not enter from this door.
Once you find the entrance from the 70’s side of the building – be prepared to feel breathless when you see this sight.
The National Archives holds roughly 103 shelf-kilometres of records dating from the Middle Ages to the present day. You can find maps, records of wars, church registries and so on. Many Finns come to the Archives to do genealogy research.
Imagine coming here to read in peace and quiet. Not many people were there when we visited and I can’t ever imagine there being a crowd.
It’s an amazing place. The National Archives has many private archives which it has acquired as donations. For example private papers from statesmen, politicians, influential people in society and culture, ordinary citizens and organisations. Imagine reading the letters written by former Finnish presidents or artists!
Now, when you do visit – I have a special assignement for you. Be on the lookout for this cute little mouse. The statue is called “The Wise Mouse” and it welcomes visitors with a pencil on his shoulders.
I am sure this picture will help you find it if you are at all familiar with Helsinki!
For all you Finns reading – you can book a free tour of the Archives for your group. Something great to do with colleagues for example. It’s an amazing service and the guide was very enthusiastic about everything. It seemed like she loved her work and her place of work which made the introduction to the building all the better for us, as she made everything sound so interesting. Do note that you can pop in even without a tour.
Have you visited the National Archives? Did you spot the little mouse?