Worker Housing Museum
The atmospheric Worker Housing Museum and its little "stove rooms" tell a fascinating story about Finnish everyday life in the past.
The Worker Housing Museum is located in the oldest apartments built by the city for its own workers in Helsinki. The one-room apartments, so called stove rooms, have been furnished and decorated as homes of people that lived in the house in different times.
Not much remains of the tightly built working class neighbourhood that sprang up behind the Pitkäsilta Bridge at the turn of the 20th century – the museum building is one of the few houses left. Next to the Linnanmäki amusement park, the hundred-year-old wooden house brings to life the working class lifestyle of 20th century Helsinki.
In the beginning of the 20th century, in order to improve the poor living conditions of the working class, the city of Helsinki decided to build well-equipped apartments for its own workers on a street then called Kristiinankatu. The apartments were let to workers who had served the city for a long time, and who preferably had large families. The rents were high but the tenants happy.
Wooden houses in the Kallio area started to disappear rapidly from the 1950s onwards. Also the apartments on Kirstinkatu were condemned in 1966 and were left to deteriorate. Life in the houses became restless. The buildings were protected in the city plan in 1986. Three of the buildings were renovated as modern apartments, and one of them was turned into the Worker Housing Museum by the City Museum. The well-preserved building was repaired with care, and as much of the old was preserved as possible.
After almost 20 years as a museum, the building needed a thorough renovation. During the renovation of 2007–2009, the biggest changes were made in the customer service area and the introduction area. There is also a new cellar exhibition and a stove room from the 1970s, where you can make yourself at home for a moment and where touching the exhibits is allowed.
"This is a wonderful museum. I have waited 3 years for it to reopen, since my first visit to Helsinki. The stories behind the rooms are exquisite, and the information just enough to elcidate (explain) but not too much. The scrapings showing the old layers of paint, and the areas where the underneath wallpapers are left, are wondefully evocative pictures of the history of each room. I live in Lady Workers Homes in London, built in the 1920s, and I have a great interest in the social history of domestic buildings, particulalrly those which show women's history. This is has been a visit worth waiting for."
"Your museum is a very interesting place, and it gives a feeling of the living conditions of former times. Thank you for all the work your doing for the exhibition!"
"We really enjoyed our visit, it was interesting, our guide was friendly, the atmosphere is relaxed..."
History of the museum building