A group of small museums scattered around the city centre constitute this city museum: all have free entry and focus on an aspect of the city’s past or present through permanent and temporary exhibitions. The must-see of the bunch is the main museum, just off Senaatintori. Its excellent collection of historical artefacts and photos is backed up by entertaining information on the history of the city, piecing together Helsinki’s transition from Swedish to Russian hands and into independence.
The museum is due to extend into nearby Sederholmin talo, Helsinki’s oldest central building (dating from 1757 and built by a wealthy merchant), which will reopen in 2016. Other museums include delightful Ratikkamuseo, which displays vintage trams and depicts daily life in Helsinki’s streets in past decades; mustard-coloured Ruiskumestarin talo, central Helsinki’s oldest wooden town house, built in 1818; and the Työväenasuntomuseo, showing how industrial workers lived in the early 20th century.