Bank of Finland Museum (Rahamuseo) and Helsinki University Museum (HY museo)

I was just taking pictures of tractors invading Senaatintori and decided to spend some spare time visiting more museums. Both Rahamuseo (translated as Money Museum, but in fact the official name is Bank of Finland Museum) and Helsinki Univeristy Museum are only a stone’s throw from Senaatintori, and fall under the category of museums which I would not probably visit without the museokortti…

… but shortly I found out that the entry to the museum is free. That’s great, but deep inside I was a bit disappointed. Or the little scrooge in me was: I did not save any money. Both museums however sell – among other souvenirs – museokortti, so at least they serve as a cool marketing tool.

Now, I was really surprised. Both museums are fun, interactive, multimedial and definitely worth a visit.

Helsinki University Museum is located on Fabianinkatu 33, in the main University building, and before you reach the third floor you will kind of feel lost or inappropriate as you will sail through the empty corridors where nobody will question your presence. This freedom and trust from the side of the university (trusting you that you won’t go amok or so) is pretty unusual, yet pretty common to instituted of higher education.

And the museum is really nice: recently refurbished it educates the visitors in a playful way not only about the history of the university or higher education in Finland in general and the student life throughout centuries, but you will also learn a great deal about the city of Helsinki and Finland in general. You will understand more the importance of Finnish rites of passage for example. Or you will finally get to know after whom the streets are named after. Or how Finland became one of the top countries in battling infant mortality, and, sigh, again, you will be acquainted with the contents of a maternity package from the 50s (?). The only thing missing was the key to colours of student overalls, that keeps bothering me…

I particularly loved those short videos about student life throughout centuries. I actually laughed. Oh and of course some artefacts from the times of Swedish vs. Finnish battling.

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While walking from the University museum to the Moneyyyyz Museum I discovered by complete coincidence that there is a crypt in the back of the white church/cathedral. It is serving as an exhibition/social space, and, well, it presents a great contrast to the shiny clean whiteness of the cathedral. There was indeed an exhibition going on – I remember it was the Art university students – as well as a small band practicing, one girl reading in the crypt’s gloom, well – why not, I thought it was awesome. And clear of tourists, ha.

Bank of Finland Museum is located just around the corner, on Snellmaninkatu 2. On the website you can read about the museum’s purpose: it is designed mainly for schools, students, pupils and other history enthusiasts. It serves as a tool for making the public familiar with monetary policies and more ready to handle own finances. Well. The museum was empty for the entire half an hour I spent there, so I guess Finnish finance literacy will remain the same;)

Let’s face it, I was not there to learn how banks work, how they lend money and what is the purpose of the central bank, but if I was I would definitely learn something. I was there to check out the exhibition celebrating 150 years of statistics in Finland, and that was, well, for a sociologist like me pretty exciting. One learned how people’s life standard, life expectancy and general living conditions changed throughout the time. It did…

… the main exposition was, leaving the central bank stuff aside, quite well done. A bit dark and gloomy lighting, typical for Finnish museums, but pretty exciting if you wanted to learn about Finnish economics AND design of old Finnish notes. And the sentiment – still very alive in the society – around the old Finnish currency, markka. I loved the variety of key-chain tools for converting markka to euro (and back) which were used (or not? Who knows) when Finland join the Eurozone in 1999.

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Or the largest lump of gold ever found in Finland. Or squirrel furs used as currency. Or different markka-designs. Come and see for yourself!

 

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