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The National Museum donates an important Sámi collection to the Sámi Museum Siida

On 5 April 2017, the National Museum of Finland and the Sámi Museum Siida concluded a letter of intent according to which the National Museum will donate a collection of Sámi artefacts to Siida.

The agreement celebrates the centenary year Finland–Sápmi 100 and the many years of co-operation between the two museums. The transfer of the collection greatly increases the attainability and influence of the Sámi cultural heritage in the Sámi area, offering the Sámi better possibilities for maintaining and developing their cultural heritage. The concentration of Sámi objects into Siida follows the principle of documentation responsibility between the museums. 

The National Museum donates an important Sámi collection to the Sámi Museum Siida

The Sámi collection of the National Museum has been accumulating since the 1830s. In the 1800s, accumulation was occasional, and a vast majority of the artefacts were acquired during collection trips made in 1902–1939. The most important collectors were T. I. Itkonen, Theodor Schvindt, Ilmari Manninen and Samuli Paulaharju. Artefacts were actively collected again from the 1970s to the 1990s; by this time, the guidelines of collection had already changed. In the Sámi area, the aim was no longer to collect old objects that were invaluable for Sámi culture, but to concentrate on new handicrafts which had been crafted according to old traditions. The National Museum was responsible for the keeping and documentation of the Sámi artefacts until 1998 when Siida was opened.

Sámi collection

The National Museum’s Sámi collection comprises approximately 2,600 artefacts, including the oldest Sámi objects found in Finland. In terms of numbers, the largest group consists of clothes and parts of clothes, household objects and equipment meant for transportation and the making of textiles. Almost a half of the artefacts have been collected from the regions of Inari and Petsamo. The big proportion of Skolt Sámi objects makes the collection especially valuable and rare from an international point of view, too.

Cooperation continues

The National Museum and Siida will in future engage in close co-operation in order to present and document Sámi culture, and the National Museum will go on introducing the public to Sámi history and cultural heritage through its exhibitions after the collection transfer, too.

The collection will be transferred to Siida in connection with the expansion of the museum, which will hopefully be completed in the early 2020s. In addition to modern collection facilities, the expansion will bring the Sámi Museum communal multipurpose facilities; this will enable the museum to present and examine collections interactively with the community. Through the study of artefacts, it will be possible to revive old Sámi crafting traditions and techniques, the Sámi knowledge of materials and words dealing with the crafting and use of objects.

The first artefacts that will be transferred from the National Museum will be at display as early as April 2018 when Siida will launch an exhibition on Johan (Juhani) Nuorgam, the founder of the museum. The Sámi Museum Siida will celebrate its 20th anniversary on 1 April 2018.


Further information:

  • Elina Anttila, Director General, National Museum of Finland, elina.anttila(a)kansallismuseo.fi, tel. +358 295 33 6131
  • Sari Valkonen, Museum Director, Sámi Museum Siida, sari.valkonen(a)samimuseum.fi, tel. +358 40 767 1052
  • Sámi museum, Siida, Inarintie 46, FI-99870 Inari, tel. +358 (0)400 898 212, siida(a)samimuseum.fi, www.siida.fi

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