8 little gems among the Åland museums

Can Åland be the place in Finland that has the greatest density of museums? Whatever the case, there are a lot of museums here and they are run by enthusiasts who love putting their interesting collections on display. Don’t miss some of the smaller and perhaps more unusual museums when you come to Åland. We recommend some of them here.

1. Åland's Camera Museum

Åland’s Camera Museum (Ålands fotografiska museum) is located in the old Pålsböle school in Finström in northern Åland. The museum is divided into three sections: shop, dark room and studio, and contains a fantastic collection of cameras, accessories and photographic equipment. Acquaint yourself with objects like the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and polar explorer Fritiof Nansen’s camera, which was used on the ship Fram’s expedition to the North Pole between 1893 and 1896, and the collection of about a hundred items consisting of the Dagens Nyheter newspaper photo equipment from the past.

2. Åland's Fire Brigade Museum

Both children and adults who love fire engines usually enjoy visiting Åland’s Fire Brigade Museum in Marby in Hammarland. There are 20 fire engines and other fire-extinguishing equipment here, and children can play, climb and jump around to their hearts’ content in their own fire engine. The oldest fire engine in the collection is a 1926 Ford model A fire engine and the newest one is a 1969 Volvo. All of them were in use in Åland in the past.

3. Åland School Museum

Do you wonder what an Åland school looked like at the end of the 19th century? Then you should visit the Åland School Museum in Strömsby, Vårdö. Teacher Viktor Jansson set up the building in 1888 and then taught and lived there until his death in 1895. The school’s fixtures and fittings in the museum were collected from the whole of Åland but some of them were already in the building. The teacher’s accommodation is partially furnished with fixtures and fittings that belonged to Viktor Jansson and his family.

4. Bomärket

Åland’s – and the world’s – largest collection of Åland owners’ marks is to be found in Ödkarby, Saltvik, in northern Åland. The owners’ marks were used in the past in the same way as a signature and were rather like runes to look at. The Bomärket Museum is open on request and the proprietor, Göran Dahl, is delighted to exhibit the thousand or so objects that make up the collection and explain about the history of owners’ marks in Åland.

5. Lasse Eriksson's Ship Museum

Chief engineer Lasse Eriksson has created a museum in an old barn in Vårdö where there are pictures, photographs, literature and accessories and gadgets from ships. It is an impressive collection that explains Åland’s maritime history, and Lasse both knows his subject well and is pleased to tell visitors about the objects in it.

6. The Mariehamn Museum

Do you want to know what Mariehamn looked like in the 1920s? Then you can visit the museum Mariehamnsmuseet where a group of pensioners built a beautiful miniature model of the old settlement. More than 600 buildings have been produced to a scale where metres became centimetres.

7. The Archipelago Museum in Lappo

The Archipelago Museum in Lappo has the most complete collection of traditional Scandinavian boats in the Baltic Sea. This is a place where you can get to know Åland’s archipelago and fishing culture – the unique collections contain about ten traditional Scandinavian boats, including the only longboat that has been preserved. The museum also has an exhibition about birds in the archipelago and a permanent photo exhibition showing life in Lappo in former times.

8. The Önningeby Museum

The Önningeby historical art and cultural museum is located in an old stone barn on the Jonesas farm in Önningeby in Jomala. This features the landscape painters that were invited by Victor Westerholm to come to Önningeby at the end of the 19th century and formed what was known as the Önningeby artists’ colony. In addition to some exquisite art from the turn of the 20th century, the museum also has objects and images that explain the environment where the art was created.

Read more