Finland’s national open air museum was established, like those of other Scandinavian countries, in the period of Romantic nationalism before the First World War, at a time when Finland formed part of the Russian Empire. It was founded in 1909 on Seurasaari island, close to the centre of Helsinki by the ethnographer Axel Olai Heikel (1851-1924), and illustrates the history of Finland in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries through a collection of more than 80 buildings from all parts of the country.
Amongst the exhibits are windmills, a tar boat from Oulo, a 17th century water-powered saw mill and a country store of 1871. The Kurssi farmstead shows how in some parts of Finland weaving was an important summer time occupation before the development of textile factories. There are occasional demonstrations of log floating, and other forest occupations. The Halla house of the early 19th century from Hyrynsalmi in the Kainuu region shows how farmhouses in forest areas traditionally kept open house for many itinerant workers, loggers, reindeer herders, hunters and migrant farm labourers.