History of the Museum
(1898 - 1905)
To the Railway
Station (1906 - 1929)
Difficult Years (1930 - 1959)
to Hyvinkää (1960 - 1973)
Era of the
Expansion (1974 - 1998)
Origins (1898 - 1905)
Finnish Railway Museum was born in a meeting of The Finnish Railway
Civil Servants Association held in Helsinki on March 16, 1898. A decision
was made to combine all the historical material collected by the Association
and its' individual members to form the basis of the collections of the future
At first, a suitable permanent premises were not available for museum purposes
and the collection was split between various departments of the Finnish Railway
Administration. The material was collected in an organized manner and accountant
Uno Öller was given the responsability of the collection. During those years, the
museum received a remarkable donation, a collection of jetons, from Baroness
Sophie Stjernvall. Her late husband, BaronKnut Stjernvall, had played an active
role in various railway construction projects in Finland and he had also collected
an important collection of Finnish railway jetons.
The Museum found suitable premises for its' first permanent location in late 1905, in
the basement of a privat building in the vicinity of Helsinki Railway Station. In 1906
The Railway Administration started to finance the museum.
To the Railway Station (1906 - 1929)
Museum administrator, Mr Öller, had set a goal improve the
museum premises situation and as a result, the museum moved from
the basement to an appartment in Kaivokatu 7 building. After this and
before finding a more permanent setup on the third floor in the
western wing of the new Helsinki Railway Station, the museum moved its
premises between several other locations.
The new premises in the railway station consisted of seven rooms with
the total surface area of 535 m2. The festive inauguration
took place on March 17, 1922 with the president of Finland present. Mr Öller
became the first intendent of the museum and the Finnish Railway administration
took over the responsability of the museum.
Various rooms in the museum were given names like Georg Strömberg Room, Mahogany Room,
Tool Room and the Red Room. The names were based on the type of museum artifacts
displayed in each room. Museum had also a small collection of rolling stock which had to
be stored elsehwere. This raised the idea of an outdoor museum, where all the rolling stock
could be displayed.
Difficult Times (1930 - 1959)
The end of the 1930's brought difficulties to the museum.
In 1938 government auditors had taken interest in the museum
budget and instructed to cut the expenses. This was a set back
to the steady development of the museum and the museum intendent
Mr Uno Öller took it very hard. He died in 1942.
During the World War II, the museum was hit by two bombs
which destroyed part of the collections. For instance, most of
the historical photos were destroyed. Scale models made of
plaster were destroyed beyond the repair and a valuable
collection of railway uniforms was seriously damaged. The rest
of the collection was evacuated to safe storage locations.
After the war the damages to the museum were repaired. Parts
of the damaged collection was refurbished poorly. At the end of
1948, the museum was re-opened, but sadly, lot's of valuable
items had been lost for good. Unlike during the years when Mr
Öller was running the museum, the emphasis was now put on
keeping the museum open and collecting new items systematically
was neglected. The lack of items from this era is still obvious
in the collections today.
Helsinki Railway Station was getting small for all the operations
of the railway administration and as more office space was required,
the museum was moved from the western wing of the station building to
the eastern wing in 1959. The new premises were considerably smaller
with only 310 m2 and part of the collection had to be stored
in the basement of the station building. On the other hand the new
premises at street level were easily accesible by visitors.
From Helsinki to Hyvinkää (1960 - 1973)
The Finnish Railways celebrated its' 100th anniversary in 1962.
The museum premises and vitrines were refurbished for the occasion.
An idea of the outdoors museum was raised once again and the lack of
office space by the railway administration in the railway station
was getting more obvious. For this reason, an active search for a new,
permanent location was started. Some of the alternatives mentioned were
Pitäjänmäki-suburb in Helsinki and Hyvinkää, some 50 km north of
In 1971 the Railway administration made a decision to move
the museum to Hyvinkää. A contributing factor to the decision was
an earlier decision to preserve the historical Hanko-Hyvinkää railway
station and its' depot in its' original glory. The land was also large
enough to accommodate new buildings for the needs of the museum.
The museum was moved to Hyvinkää in 1973 - 1974 and same time the Railway
Museum Foundation to operate the museum was founded. Originally the foundation
was run by the municipality of Hyvinkää and the Finnish Railway Administration.
The biggest difference in new premises was that finally the historical rolling
stock was displayed in the museum. The development of the new museum was slow
at first due to limited financing and the lack of comprehensive plan of action.
The historical buildings in the museum were refurbished over time and eventually
opened for the public or used for other purposes.
Era of the Expansion (1974 - 1998)
Railway Museum grew and progressed in Hyvinkäällä until the
early 1990's when the economical depression hit Finland hard
and the municipality of Hyvinkää cut the subsidies to the
museum considerably. Fortunately the new law of museums was
introduced in Finland during those years and as a consequence,
the Railway Museum started to receive financing from the
Ministry of Education.
A decision of the Ministry of Transportation to improve the
premises of Finnish transportation museums was also very fortunate
for the museum. The ministry granted subsidies to the building
projects of the museums concerned and the Railway Museum managed
to have the station building completely refurbished, engine shed in poor
shape repaired and new offices and archive rooms built. Also the entrance
of the museum and the storage building were built. The project was finished
for the 100th anniversary celebrations in 1998.
While the major building project was positive progress for the museum,
the work and research in museum suffered during the project since the collections
and archives had to be placed in a temporary storage.
In 1994, The Railway Museum was renamed to the Finnish Railway Museum.
In 1997, the Ministry of Education granted the museum a status of a national
special museum, which meant an official recognition of the Finnish Railway
Museum's postition as the leading museum of railways in Finland.
Finnish Railway Museum is also one of the pioneer museums in
Finland and worldwide in web communication. The web pages of the museum
were opened already in 1997.