Focus on Museums in Cultural Tourism

"Finnish museums are small" - a Compliment?

At first the title may not sound too flattering, but when you think about the context where it is expressed it may turn into a positive one. The context is Russian tourists visiting Helsinki capital area during New Year's season 2013-2014.

The Finnish Museums Association made a targeted questionnaire and observation survey for Russian museum visitors in seven museums in the capital region during the last turn of the year.

The number of Russian tourists is increasing in all parts of the world. Finland may have an exceptional role in Russian tourism in Europe:

  • Countries have common history, which has its tracks even today in the Finnish culture.
  • Finland has had a special role between east and west after Second World War
  • Finland has more than 1000 km of common border with Russia, with 16 border checkpoints from up north to East-South Finland.
  • Russians are the largest group of foreign tourists in Finland, comprising 47 % of the total of 7.6 million foreign tourists yearly.

All these facts have been noticed also in Finnish museums, but are museums really prepared to welcome Russian tourists and take advantage of the country´s special position? The aim of the survey made by Finnish Museums Association was to answer these questions.

The title of this article is one of the comments received in the survey. A Russian visitor had expressed his interest to visit many museums in one day because in Finland museums are small enough. This can be seen as an opportunity for museums, and especially as an opportunity for collaboration between museums.

Collaboration has already started in seven museums in the Helsinki capital area. Most of the Russian visitors come to Finland from St. Petersburg and its surrounding, so people are used to visiting huge museums like Hermitage or State Russian museum. (Modern and innovative) small museums can be seen as strength if we start using these features in an efficient way as a marketing tool for tourists.

Finnish Museums Association has started a project called Focus on Museums in Cultural Tourism in August 2013. The main partner is the National Cultural Tourism Program Culture Finland with it´s networks in tourism organisations and entrepreneurs.

One of the main themes is developing the services for Russian visitors in Finnish museums. It would be interesting to start discussion with similar kind of projects in other parts of Europe.

More information:

Elina Björkvist, Project Coordinator
Focus on Museums in Cultural Tourism, Finnish Museums Association
elina.bjorkqvist(a)museoliitto.fi