Previous exhibitions

The Museum has housed seventeen seasonal exhibitions since its inauguration in 2003. Little online material is available of them, but future seasonal exhibitions will also be featured online.

The Great Depression

What depression?

The Great Depression was an economic crisis that began in the United States and peaked in the 1930s, also undermining society and the economy in Europe and Finland. Bank crises, deflation and bankruptcies became commonplace everywhere.

In the United States, industrial production decreased by nearly 50%, and unemployment grew to unprecedented levels. In Europe, the Depression led to currency crises, unemployment and political upheavals, such as the emergence of dictatorships. In Finland, the Depression was milder than elsewhere in Europe, but here too it caused large debt problems and unemployment, particularly in agriculture and forestry.

In terms of monetary policy, the Depression led to the abolition of the gold standard and bank regulation was tightened. Other consequences included the introduction of a counter-cyclical economic policy and government-led social policy in several countries.

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Collecting Christmas parcels for people of limited means. 1931.

Collecting Christmas parcels for people of limited means. 1931. Photo: The National Board of Antiquities

View to the exhibition

View to the exhibition

Portrait of a nation – 150 years of statistics on Finland

Statistics set the basis for the development of a rational economic policy and society. Statistics Finland will celebrate its 150th anniversary in October 2015. On Tuesday, 29 September 2015, the Bank of Finland Museum will open a seasonal exhibition entitled ‘Portrait of a nation – 150 years of statistics on Finland’. The exhibition, set up in cooperation between Statistics Finland and the Bank of Finland, showcases the evolution of Finnish statistical production and displays a few selected excerpts from the vast spectrum of statistics on offer today. In addition, the exhibition provides insights into ‘statistical Finns’ from the years 1900, 1956 and 2014.

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Exports of sawn forest products from Finland, 1864–1875.

Exports of sawn forest products from Finland, 1864–1875.

Statistical Office and Tekla Hultin. Photograph 1921. Statistics Finland.

Statistical Office and Tekla Hultin. Photograph 1921. Statistics Finland.

Urban area census 1930, data entered onto punch cards.

Urban area census 1930, data entered onto punch cards.

The Eino H. Laurila national income medal

Eino H. Laurilan kansantulomitalin reliefi

Statistical Finn: Maria from 1900.

Statistical Finn: Maria from 1900.

Our mutual debt – Finnish government borrowing 1859–2015

The history of Finnish government borrowing dates back to the 1800s.The government has raised loans to finance infrastructure investments, bolster the Bank of Finland’s foreign reserves and increase the room for fiscal policy manoeuvre. Most of central government borrowing has been carried out through the issuance of bonds in both domestic and international financial markets.

The present exhibition shows a collection of Finnish government bonds through the decades, beginning with the first railway bond issued in 1859. The exhibition also presents a cross-section of developments in central government debt and its history.

Manuscript and exhibition articles: State Treasury

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Some bonds from the exhibition

The 1859 Bond (the Helsinki-Hämeenlinna railway)

The 1859 Bond (the Helsinki-Hämeenlinna railway)
4%, 50 years, rouble, issue organiser von Stieglitz, signatory Fabian Langenskiöld

The 1895 Railway Bond (the Turku and Jyväskylä railways)

The 1895 Railway Bond (the Turku and Jyväskylä railways)
3.5%, 56 years, Finnish markka and French franc, issue organisers Crédit Lyonnais, Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas etc., signatory Herman Molander

The 1923 Bond

The 1923 Bond
6%, 40 years, pound sterling, issue organisers Hambros Bank Limited and J. Henry Schroder & Co., signatory Risto Ryti

The 1939 Defence Bond

The 1939 Defence Bond
5%, 5 years, Finnish markka, signatory Väinö Tanner

The 1945 Reimbursement Bond

The 1945 Reimbursement Bond
Wholesale price index-linked bond, 10 years, Finnish markka, signatory Onni Hiltunen

The 1992 Serial Bond

The 1992 Serial Bond
11%, 7 years, Finnish markka, signatory Iiro Viinanen

The International Monetary Fund is celebrating its 70th anniversary

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international organisation that works to foster global financial stability. The IMF is the premier worldwide forum for economic cooperation. The establishment of the organisation was agreed upon 70 years ago at the Bretton Woods conference.

The current exhibition at the Bank of Finland Museum portrays the history of the IMF and its past and present activities. The exhibition also shows the importance of the IMF and the World Bank for Finland.

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Cash as art – banknote sketches

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The exhibition presented sketches for Bank of Finland banknotes. On display were artists' proposals and perspectives from the first through to the last-markka denominated banknotes (1860–1986).

The exhibition included sketches by, amongst others, the following artists:
Alexander Fadeyev
Akseli Gallén-Kallela
Aarne Karjalainen
Tapio Wirkkala
Erik Bruun
Torsten Ekström
Eeva Oivo
Pentti Rahikainen
Olavi Vepsäläinen

Alexander Fadeyev's sketch for 100 markka banknote, 1860.

Aarne Karjalainen's sketch for 100 markka banknote, 1946.

Tapio Wirkkala's sketch for 5000 markka banknote, 1952.

Torsten Ekström's drawing of Alvar Aalto for the 1986 banknote series.

Economic books that changed the world

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The Bank of Finland Library is the leading specialist library in the field of monetary policy and finance in Finland. It serves the Bank’s own experts but also welcomes other researchers and students. To celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Bank of Finland Library, we have built an exhibition of select works from the Library’s collections reflecting interesting developments in monetary policy.

The writings have been divided into four categories:

  • History of monetary policy thought
  • Monetary policy in Finland
  • International monetary integration
  • Financial crises

We hope that the exhibition will highlight old classics as well as more recent works and provoke a debate on which books actually deserve to be part of the exhibition. The books have been selected by the monetary history researchers Antti Kuusterä and Juha Tarkka.


Raghuram Rajan at the Bank of Finland in 2006. Photo: Peter Mickelsson.


Bank of Finland Governor Risto Ryti. Photo: Bank of Finland.

Helsinki Stock Exchange: 100 years

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The new seasonal exhibition at the Bank of Finland Museum presents the highlights from different decades in the 100 year history of Helsinki Stock Exchange. The exchange has changed with time towards its current role as an international trading forum. Economic upheavals over the years have all been reflected in its work: upswings and downswings, wartime, post-war reconstruction, financial market liberalisation and ongoing internationalisation. Stock exchange operations have not previously been presented so extensively in Finland.

Finland’s first formal stock exchange session was held on 7 October 1912, although the roots of stock exchange trading stretch back to the 1860s. Trading was at first irregular, with shares and other securities being traded at occasional unofficial auctions. Regular, organised stock exchange activities began in October 1912 at the present-day stock exchange on Fabianinkatu in Helsinki.

The exhibition features original documents and a splendid collection of share certificates of Finnish companies from different periods. The exhibition will continue until late summer.

Helsinki Stock Exchange in 1937

Helsinki Stock Exchange in 1937. The electromechanical quotation board was installed in 1935.

Palovakuutus Pohjola Osakeyhtiö share from 1891 (fire insurance company)

Palovakuutus Pohjola Osakeyhtiö share from 1891 (fire insurance company).Listed in 1912–2006.

Yhtyneet Paperitehtaat Osakeyhtiö share from 1920 (paper mill)

Yhtyneet Paperitehtaat Osakeyhtiö share from 1920 (paper mill).Listed in 1920–1990.

 Aktiebolabet Kemi Osakeyhtiö share from 1934 (paper mill)
Aktiebolabet Kemi Osakeyhtiö share from 1934 (paper mill). Listed in 1916–1990.

The last Finnish markka

Finnish banknotes 1945–2002

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This seasonal exhibition presented Finnish banknotes from 1945 until the euro cash changeover in 2002. The redemption of these banknotes ends on 29 February 2012, ten years after the changeover.

Only a piece of paper

A banknote is only a piece of paper with no inherent value. The value of a banknote is based on trust in the issuer. This trust depends on the ability of the banknote to fulfil its role as a payment instrument and keeper of value.
The Bank of Finland is the sole issuer of banknotes in Finland and during the timeline covered by the exhibition the Bank also decided on the face values, paper, design and production methods of banknotes. The final decision on the banknotes was made by the Parliamentary Supervisory Council on the proposal by the Bank’s Board.

Tapio Wirkkala's sketch for a 500-markka banknote in 1947.
Tapio Wirkkala's sketch for a 500-markka banknote in 1947.

Three currencies, two centuries, one Bank of Finland

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The Bank of Finland Museum's exhibition ‘Three currencies, two centuries, one Bank of Finland’ commemorated the Bank of Finland’s 200th anniversary.

The exhibition aimed at presenting how monetary reforms affect the lives of ordinary citizens. Changing one form of cash, or even an entire currency, for another is always a major event. Changing this key factor of everyday life forces people to think again about the prices of the goods they buy and the value of their assets. The Bank of Finland was founded in 1811 specifically to oversee the changing of the currency used in Finland at that time, from Swedish riksdaler to Russian rouble. This seasonal exhibition at the Bank of Finland Museum tells the story of the monetary changes that have occurred since then, during the 200-year history of the Bank of Finland.

Three currencies, two centuries, one Bank of Finland

Vitamin D! The Devaluations of 1957 and 1967

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Vitamin D!

The eighth seasonal exhibition at the Bank of Finland museum was opened on 27 October 2009 and it was on display until the end of 2010.

The purpose of the seasonal exhibition is to explain the background to the devaluations in Finland of 1957 and 1967, how the devaluations were brought about and their effect. The exhibitions at to enable the visitor of today to understand the monetary policy environment of a time when parliamentary turnover was so frequent that the average age of a government was only a year.

In the post-war years the Bank of Finland found it had to adjust the external value of the markka countless times. By joining the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) in 1996, stability was brought to the Finnish currency's value. The euro was adopted, initially as scriptural money in 1999, and subsequently the cash changeover was made at the beginning of 2002.

The title of the exhibition, with its reference to 'Vitamin D', does not seem to have been used to refer to the devaluations of the 1950s and 60s, but by the 1980s it had become a firm part of the economic jargon of the time.

Euro - A window to cultural identity

The Museum’s seventh seasonal exhibition was about Euro and it's cultural identity. The euro was launched on 1 January 1999 as scriptural money. Euro in cash form was introduced for the first time in 12 EU member states on 1 January 2002. Except for the printing code and serial number, euro banknotes are identical irrespective of the country in which they are produced or issued. The common side of euro coins is identical in all countries, whereas the obverse or the national side varies from country to country. The national sides show symbols or images that reflect the respective country's culture or what is unique for it. Therefore euro coins most effectively capture what the single currency is all about: in a multifaceted Europe the same currency can be used anywhere in the euro area, regardless of nationality, language or culture.

Euro - A window to cultural identity

Exhibition area
Cash money is an example of everyday art at its best. Banknotes represent the utmost in graphic design and graphic art, while coins are a prime example of sculpture. In coins in particular, the feel of the material is tangible. Indeed, the feel and unique characteristic of metal are highly prominent in this exhibition. Although in principle each denomination is a mixture of the same material, minted using the same mould, there are variations among the coins of different countries and between different mint batches. This can also be seen as an allegory of European diversity: coins are similar, yet different.

The exhibition was open 8.1.–22.10.2009.

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Here you can download presentation The national sides of the euro coins are a window to culture
High resolution (PDF, 192 MB)
Low resolution (PDF, 3,28 MB)

Gold – The basis of a monetary system

Open from 8 April to 2 November 2008, the Museum’s sixth seasonal exhibition was about gold as the basis of a monetary system. The exhibition illustrated how gold has been used as a means of exchange and highlighted monetary systems based on gold both in Finland and internationally – without forgetting Lapp gold or the gold collection in the war time. Visitors to this exhibition could view  Aleksi, the largest gold nugget ever panned in Finland. It was discovered in Laanila, Inari, in Lapland  in 1910.

Ms Sinikka Salo
Sinikka Salo, member of the Board, receiving guests at the inauguration on 10 January 2006. 

A century of bank advertising

Bank advertising as a symbol of overall economic thinking in society was the theme of the Museum’s 5th exhibition titled ‘One hundred years of bank advertising’. Advertising has been used to direct the public's actions in the use of their funds in whatever direction has been considered desirable. For years, the advertisements highlighted the Finnish virtues of frugality and negativity to consumerism. Old-style advertisements tell of their time in an informative and entertaining manner.
“This exhibition illustrates well Finland’s transition from an old agrarian society to a modern consumer society. In order for loan markets to function well, healthy competition and thus advertising are needed, but some of the current trends in advertising consumer loans are worrying”, said Sinikka Salo, member of the Board, in her inauguration speech.
The exhibition ran from 9 January to 30 September 2007.

Sinikka Salo
Sinikka Salo, member of the Board, delivering her inauguration speech on 9 January 2007.

Snellman and the Finnish markka

Inaugurated on 10 January 2006, the fourth seasonal exhibition at the Bank of Finland Museum was titled ‘Snellman and the Finnish markka’, as 2006 celebrated 200 years since the birth of Johan Vilhelm Snellman and 125 years since his death. 

The exhibition focuses on the period 1863–1868, when Snellman, in his capacity as Chief of Finance at the Treasury, was closely involved with the Bank of Finland. Snellman's most significant achievement while holding this office was stabilisation of Finland's monetary conditions. In 1860, Finland had received a monetary unit of its own called the markka, the value of which was tied to the paper rouble, which continued to fluctuate. By pegging the value of the markka to silver in 1865, and thereby stabilising the value of the currency, J. V. Snellman completed the work of his predecessor Fabian Langenskiöld. The same objective – the stabilisation of the value of money – was also the key motivation behind the next major monetary reform, namely the introduction of the euro some 130 years later.

The exhibition ran from 10 January to 31 December 2006.

Sinikka Salo
Sinikka Salo, member of the Board, receiving guests at the inauguration on 10 January 2006.

 Vappu Ikonen ja Juha Tarkka
Designers of the exhibition Vappu Ikonen, Researcher, and Juha Tarkka, Adviser to the Board.

The Bank of Finland through cartoonists' eyes

The third seasonal exhibition highlighted how the Bank of Finland has been viewed by political cartoonists from early 1920s to the present day. On display were samples of work by four of Finland's better-known and most productive cartoonists: Kari Suomalainen, Terho Ovaska, Henrik Karlsson and Kaarlo A. Rissanen. Kari Suomalainen was in-house cartoonist for the national quality newspaper Helsingin Sanomat 1966–91 and Terho Ovaska succeeded him, 1991–2005. Henrik Karlsson's penmanship has been published in Helsingin Sanomat since 1986, while Kaarlo A. Rissanen has been creating drawings illustrating the machinations of the economy in the financial journal Kauppalehti since 1969.

Erkki Liikanen, Governor of the Bank of Finland, and artist Terho Ovaska.

Erkki Liikanen, Governor of the Bank of Finland, and artist Terho Ovaska.

Euro banknote design proposals on view

Inaugurated on 1 September 2004, the second seasonal exhibition focused on sketch proposals for euro banknote series designs. The sketches were those submitted to the design competition launched by the European Monetary Institute (EMI), the predecessor of the European Central Bank. The competing sketch proposals on display at the Museum changed monthly, with eight series on display at a time. In September 2004, the display featured the Finnish competing entries by artists Erik Bruun, Daniel Bruun and Johanna Bruun. The last sketches were on display in August 2005.

Erik Bruun and the banknote series.
Erik Bruun and the banknote series.

The country that paid its debts

Finland’s reputation as a reliable debtor was established in 1932, when Finland paid the instalment in full and on time to the United States on a food loan received in 1919. In 1931, US President Herbert Hoover had granted its European debtor countries a year-long moratorium as part of an arrangement of international economic relations. Finland was the United States’ only debtor country that continued to pay its debt to the end. Between 1933 and 1936, almost 3,000 stories were published in American newspapers on Finland’s debt repayment and on Finland.

Finland continued to meet its regular instalments until the 1940s, when a few years’ moratorium was called because of World War II. At that time, Finnish and US authorities also discussed whether it would be possible to invest the money repaid by Finland into something that would benefit Finland. This aim was met through the ASLA grant fund established in 1951. The last repayment on the debt was made in accordance with a renewed, faster schedule in 1976.

The very first exhibition at the Museum ran from 22 August 2003 to 31 August 2004.