A Repurposed Russian Cadet School

As a disclaimer: These photos were taken during a visit in September 2017, so this post may not be representative of this site today.

Natural History Museum of Helsinki

One of three subdivisions of the Finnish Museum of Natural History (the others being the Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden and the Kumpula Botanic Garden), the Natural History Museum of Helsinki is a part of the University of Helsinki that nevertheless functions independently.


The building that houses the museum dates from 1913, and was originally built for a Russian-speaking cadet school, the Alexander Lyceum. It went on to become a Finnish cadet school in 1918 (after Finnish independence), though it was vacated in 1923. This is when the University of Helsinki converted it for use as its Zoology Museum.

Apparently, the building is infested with Chilean recluse spiders, and has been since the early 1960s. Also apparently, this species of spider is considered to be the most dangerous of the venomous recluse spiders (how fun). Still, there has only been one (non-fatal) case of a biting incident at the museum in all this time.

National Museum of Finland

This museum covers Finnish history from the Stone Age to the present day, making use of objects and cultural history to create an engaging trip through history.

The building that houses the museum was designed by the architectural company Gesellius, Lindgren, Saarinen, and draws inspiration from Finland’s mediaeval churches and castles. It was built in 1905-1910, and opened to the public in 1916.

The museum collections cover pre-history, the development of Finnish society from the 12th century to the 20th through the Swedish and Russian occupations, and Finnish folk culture in the 18th and 19th centuries before the advance of industrialization.

These frescoes depict the Kalevala epic, and were painted by Akseli Gallén-Kallela in 1928. They are based on the frescoes painted by the artist for the Finnish Pavilion of the Paris World Fair in 1900.

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