Seurasaari Open-Air Museum
Seurasaari island - Helsinki (Uusimaa region), FINLAND
Seurasaari is both an island and a district in Helsinki, located just a few kilometres west from the city centre (it takes just a few minutes by bus). The beautiful green wooded island with rocks, hills, wetlands and herb-rich forests, has become a quite beloved outdoor recreation area and open-air museum receiving tens of thousands of visitors a year attracted by its rural, peaceful outdoor atmosphere.
The Midsummer celebration is particularly popular: a huge bonfire is built on a small isle just off the island's coast and ignited by a newlywed couple. Thousands of Helsinkians and tourists watch the burning of the bonfire from both Seurasaari itself and boats. Despite the visitors, the island has a variety of wildlife, especially birds (ducks, swans and geese), but also hares and the famous happy little red squirrels.
Seurasaari island was made a public park in 1890 and quickly became a popular place for picnics and parties. To begin with people had to take a boat to the island, but a bridge was built in 1892. Only when people started going to the island more often did they give it a new Finnish name, Seurasaari. "Seura" means company and "saari" means island. So, the name taken literally, you are never alone in Seurasaari. Nearby Seurasaari there are also the Urho Kekkonen Museum, the Meilahti Art Museum and the Pukkisaari Iron Age Trading Place and Village, which is located on the Puukisaari island (to find out more about this site please visit our dedicated page, click here).
In the Seurasaari Open-air Museum the traditional Finnish way of life of crofters, peasants and gentry from the 18th to the 20th century is displayed in the cottages, farmsteads and manors, that have been relocated in the dense forest landscape of the island from all around Finland. Professor Axel Olai Heikel, an expert on ethnology and vernacular architecture, founded the Open-Air Museum in 1909, when the first group of buildings, including the Niemelä farm in Konginkangas (Central Finland), was brought to the island. Heikel's guiding concept was to collect buildings typical of the different provinces and regions of Finland. There are currently 87 buildings in the Open-air Museum, mostly agrarian buildings made from wood. The oldest building is the Karuna Church dating 1686.
The Seurasaari Open-Air Museum provides an insight into Finnish housing in days gone by and folk tradition. Guides in national costumes lead visitors back to the cottages and salons of former times during the summer season. The visitors can enjoy craft demonstrations, concerts, and Midsummer festivities as well.
Info & Contact
The Finnish National Board of Antiquities / Museovirasto
Address: P.O.Box 913, FI-00101 Helsinki, Finland
Tel.: +358 0940501
Seurasaari Open-Air Museum / Seurasaaren ulkomuseo
Tel.: +358 0940509660
The Seurasaari Foundation / Seurasaarisäätiö
Address: Huvila 3, Seurasaari, 00250 Helsinki, Finland
Tel.: +358 09484511
E-mail: see online form
Main image: copyright European Tourist Guide http://www.euro-t-guide.com/
Further images: European Tourist Guide unless otherwise credited
Text sources: Seurasaari Open-Air Museum, The Finnish National Board of Antiquities, The Seurasaari Foundation, Wikipedia
Seurasaari island and Helsinki on Google Maps:
Exploring the Seurasaari Open-air Museum:
The Midsummer celebrations in Seurassari: