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The Bank of Finland Museum (official website) is located just behind Helsinki Cathedral near Senate Square in central Helsinki. The Vanha Kauppahalli food hall and the ferries to Suomenlinna are also nearby. The museum is also near several hop-on, hop-off bus routes, as well as public transportation. Entry is free.
The Bank of Finland Museum is mostly one spacious room. The room is split into galleries detailing the history of the nation’s currency as well as major events in Finnish monetary and economic history.
Early settlers in what is now Finland exchanged furs as currency. The Finnish word for money – raha – originally meant “squirrel skin.” This word has origins in the Iron Age.
In the 15th century, coins were minted in Turku, which was then the capital city. The museum has coins from even earlier than that.
Later, Finnish currency had ties to the Swedish system. One of the recurring themes of the Bank of Finland Museum is how the country has changed hands over the years. It went from Sweden to Russia to independence. Other national banks like England & Scotland haven’t had to deal with that, so it’s a unique topic.
The Bank of Finland first started branch offices in the early 1800s. One main purpose was to reform its currency & finally get Swedish currency out of circulation. It was a problem that had been occurring for some time.
The Bank of Finland Museum goes into excellent detail about the country’s financial history, including noted figures such as Risto Ryti. The information is presented interestingly. On one side of the gallery, you have the specific Finnish history. On the other, the museum covers global currency events, from the gold standard & the IMF to the European currency unit, which would eventually become the Euro.
The Bank of Finland Museum then has displays about global financial systems and payments. Again, the museum has more detail here than in other similar national bank museums. It’s interesting to learn about, given how truly global economic systems are these days.
The final galleries of the museum are devoted to the typical topics of a financial museum, currency printing, counterfeiting, and destruction. The collection of banknotes from throughout Finnish history is quite impressive.
The collection also contains the largest gold nugget ever found in Finland.
Other items in the gallery include commemorative coins and the last markka-denominated notes & coins from before Finland switched to the Euro.
Not only does the Bank of Finland Museum display a huge selection of banknotes, but it also proudly devotes space to specific banknote designers.
As with other bank museums, the museum concludes with education about financial literacy & monetary policy. It even has a section about the benefits of taxation. This is education that a lot of people could use in other places. It shows part of the reason why Finland has such nice infrastructure and social programs.
The Bank of Finland Museum provides interesting insight into not just the Finnish economic system but also that of the European Union as a whole, with plenty of detail about the country’s financial history. For more nearby history, visit the Helsinki City Museum and the National Memorial of the Winter War.
If you’re looking for a place to stay in Helsinki, check out these Helsinki hotels.