Top 10 must-see museums in Helsinki region

Credits: WeeGee Emma

Museums for every taste

Do museums tickle your fancy? In Helsinki Region, you are spoiled with choice. Here are the museums that made it to our top 10 must-see list. Choose the one that speaks to you the most or tick them all off the list!

To see a list of the best museums in Finland, read our article "Must-visit museums in Finland."

Seurasaari Island and Open-Air Museum

This popular destination for Sunday strolls has also been described as “rural Finland in miniature”. Seurasaari Island’s Open-Air Museum has 87 separate buildings brought from various parts of the country, which give you a tangible experience of how the Finns lived in the countryside between the 18th and 20th centuries. The tour guides’ fascinating stories will bring the history of the smoke cabins’, crofts’, and manors even more to life.

After the tour, take a seat at the island’s charming café for refreshments and continue to linger in the historical ambiance. Or pop over to the museum shop for some unique souvenir finds!

Credits: Helsinki Marketing

Ateneum

If you wish to educate yourself on Finnish art history, the choice is easy. The Ateneum in the heart of Helsinki has Finland’s oldest and largest collection of art. This historically important building has been the home of Finnish art since 1888, and its collection represents a substantial part of the Finns’ shared national heritage. Until the 1980s, the Ateneum also housed an art school where many of Finland’s great artists once studied.  Here you can see the masterpieces of Finnish art by Albert Edelfelt, Akseli Gallen-Kallela, and Helene Schjerfbeck among many others. The collection has also pieces from some international artists you probably recognize, such as Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, and Vincent van Gogh.

Credits: Ateneum

National Museum of Finland

Please note that the National Museum is closed for renovation and is expected to re-open again in 2027.

If you are keen to understand Finnish history, folk culture, and the culture of Finno-Ugric people, head toward the National Museum of Finland in the centre of Helsinki. This National Romantic style building contains the oldest and most comprehensive cultural history collections in the nation. Approximately half a million artifacts present Finnish history from the Stone Age to the present day. Alongside the permanent exhibitions and the guided tours, The National Museum hosts temporary programmes, so it’s worthwhile to check what’s on beforehand.

Hot tip! The museum’s entrance hall’s ceilings are decorated with Finnish national epic Kalevala-themed frescoes painted by artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela himself. You can visit the entrance hall without a fee.

Credits: Niko Laurila

Kiasma

Kiasma is the crown jewel of contemporary art in Finland, as well as a meeting place for people and art. The museum is located at the heart of Helsinki and its collections form a significant part of Finland’s cultural heritage.  Kiasma hosts exhibitions, performances, and events ranging from colour play for toddlers to art workshops for grownups as well as guided tours.

The building was designed by American architect Steven Holl and was opened to the public in 1998. The architecture was inspired by the Finnish natural light, which changes with the season and time of the day. Observe the light as well as the zeitgeist through art, and exchange thoughts over a glass of crisp wine and a savoury snack at the Kiasma Café. The museum shop is also a fantastic place to find personal gifts.

Credits: Harri Tarvainen

Amos Rex

The latest addition to the Helsinki art museum scene is Amos Rex which opened in August 2018. Amos Rex was named after Amos Anderson, a Swedish-speaking Finnish businessman, newspaper publisher, and patron of the arts. Amos Rex currently is home to one of the largest private art collections in Finland hosting popular exhibitions. Amos Rex has also received international attention for its unique architecture.

You will find the museum in the Lasipalatsi (“Glass Palace” in Finnish) building in central Helsinki, but the exhibition space is in fact located underground. The curved domes at Lasipalatsi Square have become a popular meeting spot, where you are free to rest, play, and capture selfies using the exciting landscape as a backdrop.

Credits: Tuomas Uusiheimo

The Design Museum & The Museum of Finnish Architecture

If you are a design and architecture enthusiast, head towards the Kaartinkaupunki district. The Design Museum and the Museum of Finnish Architecture are both located on the same block.

The internationally recognized Design Museum introduces essential designers and manufacturers of Finnish design, which often finds its inspiration from arctic nature and distinct four seasons. The design artifacts tell a fascinating story of the transformation of the Finnish lifestyle in recent history.

The Museum of Finnish Architecture was established in 1956, being one of the first museums in the world to specialise in architecture. The museum’s permanent collection is vast, yet the exhibitions and events invite you to explore the current architectural phenomena. Apart from workshops and guided tours, the museum hosts walking excursions where you can discover 1920s architecture in Helsinki.

Credits: Aku Pöllänen

Heureka

The Finnish Science Centre Heureka is a perfect attraction for a curious mind and a popular family favourite. Heureka is in Vantaa, but it is easy to reach by public transport from Helsinki city centre. At Heureka you can expand your knowledge of science and technology in an engaging and interactive way. 

The science centre hosts themed exhibitions, planetarium films, educational programmes, and events all year round. Its planetarium is one of the biggest and the most advanced in Europe, where you can immerse yourself in stunning visual storytelling on planets, stars, and natural phenomena, such as the northern lights. Heureka also hosts events such as rat basketball and science theatre, so the chances are you will leave this museum with some exceptional memories!

Espoo Museum of Modern Art - EMMA

Finland’s largest art museum EMMA is the city of Espoo’s iconic landmark. The building itself is a classic sample of 1960s concrete brutalism located in the woodlands of the Tapiola district. EMMA’s vast collection includes works from Finnish and other Nordic artists, showcasing design and experimental pieces alongside modern and contemporary art.

The building is home also to Futuro house and the KAMU – Espoo City Museum, which you also get to visit with the same museum ticket. EMMA is a fun place for families, too, as the exhibitions include pit stops where you can get creative and experiment together with your kids.

The iconic Futuro house
Credits: Ari Karttunen

Hvitträsk

Hvitträsk is a fine sample of national romantic architecture, and as such, a popular destination amongst design and architecture enthusiasts from all over the world. At the turn of the 19th century, the architect trio Gesellius, Lindgren, and Saarinen fell in love with the scenery by Lake Vitträsk and decided to build their unique studio home there. Hvitträsk was completed in 1903.

Get the most out of this stunning location by participating in a public or a booked tour. If you visit Hvitträsk in the summer months, finish the tour at the museum’s lush garden café and enjoy the courtyard’s charming atmosphere.

Credits: Hvitträsk Museum

Finnish Nature Center Haltia

The Finnish Nature Centre Haltia is the first and the biggest public massive wood building in Finland. Haltia’s architecture together with its picturesque location on the shore of lake Pitkäjärvi are already reasons for a visit, yet the exhibitions will take you on a fascinating journey to the spectacular scenery of Finnish national parks, hiking trails, and nature destinations in Helsinki region.

If you want to immerse yourself in tangible nature, continue your day to the Nuuksio National Park. A connecting trail from Haltia leads to the main gate of the nature reserve.

Credits: Mika Huisman

See also

Porvoo & Fiskars: idyllic & creative towns

Read about Porvoo and Fiskars, two idyllic and creative Finnish towns full of art and design, located near Helsinki.