The National Museum of Finland

Valuing visitors by expanding the museum experience

A large portion of Finnish history is housed in the National Museum of Finland, a historically significant National Romantic building designed by famed architects Herman Gesellius, Armas Lindgren and Eliel Saarinen. The museum, surrounded by a peaceful garden, was first opened to the public in 1916.

The building’s long history, along with the newly reformed brand identity and service design process, gave a clear direction for the new interior design concept of the entrance and museum shop. The aim was to serve different groups of people and strengthen the visitor experience. The spaces were designed to feel more welcoming and open, and to cater for various museum activities and events.

The museum shop is now located in a beautifully vaulted space that formerly housed the pre-historic exhibition. The shop space now includes a pop-up exhibition area, separated and defined with playfully shaped folding screens. On the second floor, a picturesque space with views over Töölönlahti bay was designed to be used for various types of workshops and events. A pedagogical collection of historical items was placed in a large vitrine, which allows the items to be viewed from various angles.

Interlacing historical and contemporary in the protected entrance hall was also at the forefront of the design concept. A round, movable service desk, clad in raw copper and located centrally below Akseli Gallén-Kallela´s ceiling fresco, attracts visitors to explore the vaulted hall in all its glory. The desk was designed to accentuate the symmetry of the glass dome above and to be easily approachable and welcoming. The new location of the service area in the center of the space facilitates the experience for all guests, from individual visitors to larger groups. Finnishness is incorporated throughout the updated interior, with classics from the great Finnish designers mixed in with modern pieces. Classic silhouettes allude to the building’s significant national romantic aesthetic. The adjacent cloakroom and conference room reflect the same thoughtful design sensibility – infusing each space with modern elements while highlighting and honoring the existing.

The main goal of the service design path was to simplify and clarify the customer experience for museum visitors. The signage was divided into four groups; principal, services, exhibition and surprising gems. The visual language is minimal and functional, and follows the museum’s overall visual concept, allowing the exhibitions and architecture to shine. Colors are used advisedly as accents.