Are you up to a generous portion of contemporary art? Tropical getaway? Casual encounter with a bunch of well-preserved dinosaurs? Then say hello to Friday – the most intense day in Helsinki museum life when all these things can happen free of charge. Wonder about the other days of the week? Check out my previous blog post “4 x free entrance to Helsinki museums 1/2“.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Free admission on the first Friday of the month from 10am to 8.30pm.
Regular price: €12/€8
Why to visit?
Bold, pushing the limits Kiasma is more than a museum – it is a mixture of contradiction, ambiguity, bewilderment and challenge smartly packed in a spacious light-catching building by Steven Hall – the only permanent museum’s showpieces. As for the rest, you never know what exactly you are going to get upstairs, because the artworks here tend to defy easy categorization. Better, think of Kiasma as a big Kinder Surprise chocolate egg, filled with quality contemporary art. You might end up with a strong allergic reaction or… become hooked on a feeling. Just go for it. I personally love Kiasma for being an impressions rollercoaster where emotions flip back and forth and your mind is constantly at work. Don’t forget to dig for the most artsy souvenirs in the Kiasma museum shop.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Mannerheiminaukio 2, http://www.kiasma.fi/en/
The National Museum of Finland (Kansallismuseo)
Free admission every Friday from 4pm to 6pm.
Regular price: €10/€7
Why to visit?
To be fair, two hours is not enough to take in everything that this museum offers: after all, you need to cover the distance from the 12th to the 19th century on foot. However, make sure to do two things (both are actually free of charge): look up in the entrance hall – to see the epic ceiling frescoes by renowned Finnish painter Akseli Gallén-Kallela and study the museum building from the outside. It is a gorgeous example of The Finnish National Romantic style – somewhat of a medieval castle with a stone bear guarding the entrance. By the way, the building also hosts another museum – The Museum of Cultures (Kulttuurien museo), which shares the same free admission hours. Tough choices!
The National Museum of Finland, Mannerheimintie 34, http://www.kansallismuseo.fi/en/nationalmuseum
Museum of Finnish Architecture (Arkkitehtuurimuseo)
Free admission on the first Friday of the month.
Regular price: €8/€4
Why to visit?
Museum focuses on post-1900 architecture and boasts to hold quite an archive, that is, by the way, open to public. One of the temporary exhibitions (well, it is until 2020, so temporary is a loose definition) is about the history of Finnish architecture in the 20th century. However, if you really-really-really want to see this very architecture at its absolute best (and this is my most insistent advice) – get a map and simply walk from The Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma to The Olympic Stadium. It is the most architecturally diverse part of Helsinki that will leave your phone camera out of battery in no time.
Museum of Finnish Architecture, Kasarmikatu 24, http://www.mfa.fi/frontpage
The Natural History Museum (Luonnontieteellinen keskusmuseo)
Free admission on the first Friday of the month from 1pm to 4pm (wintertime 01.9-31.05) and from 2pm to 5pm (summertime 01.06-31.08).
Regular price: €13/€6
Why to visit?
Walking in this museum is like watching 3D screenshots from Discovery channel: the cranes dancing on the bog, bears posing in the forest, owl dining on… wait, you don’t really want to find out. The attention to diorama’s details is admirable: cranberry shrubs, forest mushrooms of different levels of edibility and you can swear you almost heard the buzz of mosquitoes. The museum collection is not limited by Finnish nature: there is a bunch of zebras, giraffes, a blood-chilling scene of hunting in savannah and a welcoming elephant downstairs. Besides, visitor of any age cannot overestimate the thrill of meeting Giganotosaurus – he is patiently waiting to be Instagramed somewhere on the third floor.
The Natural History Museum, Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu 13, https://www.luomus.fi/en/natural-history-museum
Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden (Kaisaniemen kasvitieteellinen puutarha)
Free admission to the Glasshouse on the first Friday of the month from 1pm to 4pm (wintertime) and from 2pm to 5pm (summertime). The entrance to the territory of the park is always free of charge.
Regular price: €9/€6/€4.50
Why to visit?
The elegant evergreen glasshouses bloom and scent with somewhat 1300 plants from all over the world, including the gigantic Santa Cruz water lily that is traditionally stealing the show. And it is so welcoming warm inside… The tropical temperatures of the rooms might sound as a questionable argument in favor of the visit, but if you come to Helsinki, let us say, from October to May – you will eventually consider it a crucial one. As for the garden, it is one of the most poetic and serene places, a walking distance away from the hustle and bustle of The Central Railway Station. Walk through the gates in in the evening to smell rhododendrons and peonies, just be aware that you are all the time watched by the sneaky city bunnies lodging in the bushes.
Kaisaniemi Botanic Garden, Unionkatu 44, https://www.luomus.fi/en/kaisaniemi-botanic-garden
HAM: Helsinki Art Museum (Helsingin taidemuseo)
Free admission on the last Friday of the month from 4pm to 6pm. Some of the exhibitions, though, are always free of charge.
Regular price: €10/€8
Why to visit?
Helsinki Art Museum is a place with a vibe: it encourages selfies and hashtags in social media, offers plastic stools for contemplation and shares the building with the biggest movie theatre. The recent museum’s reopening was a much-anticipated event in the city’s art life and definitely worth waiting: the updated version came with a new glass-domed gallery and old superpower for picking up excellent exhibition – never hit or miss, rather “great” or “wow”. Also, HAM is the official guardian for 450 public sculptures and 3500 artworks scattered around the city, so its presence in Helsinki is kind of omnipotent. More about HAM here.
Helsinki Art Museum, Eteläinen Rautatiekatu 8, http://www.hamhelsinki.fi/en/
Just to remind, that for devoted museum-goers Helsinki has a very special offer – Museum Card. It costs €59, can be purchased online and valid for one year starting from your first museum visit. The card gives a chance to visit 200 museums all over Finland, including Joensuu, Porvoo, Turku, Juväskylä and dozen of other cities. Have you been to Gold Prospector Museum in Lapland? Neither did I. Yet.
Helsinki Card is a city card with a number of benefits that will help you to discover and experience Helsinki plus save money, time and energy during your visit. Sightseeing + +museums + discounts + public transport included.
Written by Ksenia Kosheleva.