Books on a table.

Helsinki adapts more culture and leisure services to new conditions

The City of Helsinki has come up with several new ways to bring arts, culture and entertainment to its residents since the covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. In addition to the digital and virtual innovations announced earlier, the city now offers library book bags, vintage photo galleries and sculpture tours to fill your days.

Free bags of books from library steps

Helsinki’s network of libraries has started a book bag service, in which library workers gather books that are in good condition and would otherwise be discarded into handy themed bags. Participating libraries then distribute the bags to the public by placing them in a row outside their front door. Helsinki residents are welcome to come and pick up the bags that interest them every weekday from 10 am to 2 pm. Labels mark the different themes for adults and children, but customers are advised not to open the bags until they are home.

Etelä and Pohjois Haaga, Itäkeskus, Jakomäki, Kallio, Lauttasaari, Malminkartano, Pasila, Pitäjänmäki, Puistola, Rikhardinkatu, Töölö and Viikki libraries have provided the service since 23 March, and more libraries are set to join. The books do not need to be returned; readers are free to keep them or gift them forward.
Old photographs to study

The Helsinki City Museum has close to one million photographs of the city and its residents, dating back to 1860. About 65,000 of these photos have been made available on the website Visitors to the site can also download the images as high-resolution files for printed items or smaller files for e.g. internet use. The service also offers its own line of photo products for a fee. Take a nostalgic trip into Helsinki’s past any time of the day. For example, the search function makes it possible look up old photos from your neighbourhood or street.  
Browse collections from your home

The Helsinki Art Museum HAM looks after over 9,000 works of art that belong collectively to the people of Helsinki. Even though the museum is now closed, the museum puts 2,700 artworks and 500 sculptures from around the city at your fingertips at the HAM website and social media channels.  ​

Self-guided sculpture tours

HAM has also created self-guided sculpture trails with various themes for residents of the city to explore. The Questions of Life trail asks questions about what art is and how it affects us, while the Inhale Exhale trail is a good running route. The Life Path of Tove Jansson directs walkers to important landmarks in local streets and parks that shed light on the scuplture-filled life of the famous author.

Photo: Katja Tähjä