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22.07.2020

Natural History Museum of Helsinki

The Natural History Museum is one of the museums managed by the Finnish Natural History Museum, part of the University of Helsinki, in Helsinki, Finland.

The building that houses the museum, located on Arkadienkatu and Pohojinen Rautatiekatu streets in the centre of Helsinki, was built in 1913. Originally it was built for the Alexander Lyceum, the Russian-language cadet school, where pupils were distinguished by their military uniforms.  The building was designed by two Russian architects, Lev P. Chichko and MG Chaiko, and the architecture is unusually bright, especially the main staircase. After Finnish independence in 1918 the building became a Finnish cadet school. When the school liberated the building in 1923, it was taken over by the University of Helsinki and turned into a zoological museum. Its first collections were based on donations to the University of Helsinki from the private society Societas pro Fauna et Flora.

The museum building has been home to the Loxosceles laeta (Chilean hermit spider) population since the early 1960s.  Although many consider this species to be the most dangerous of the poisonous hermit spiders, only one minor bite has occurred to date. While ecologist Veikko Hughta suggested that the Chilean hermit first arrived by fruit transport from Argentina, the museum's senior curator, Jyrki Muona, offers an alternative explanation for the spider's arrival in the wood chips used for the living rodent enclosure.

The museum features taxidermed animals, skeletons, prehistoric animal remains and minerals. On the ground floor there is an exhibition of bones. On the upper floors there are exhibitions of Finnish nature, world nature and life history. An elk statue in front of the museum became a symbol of the museum. The hall is dominated by an African elephant with taxidermization . The museum also has a café and a souvenir shop. The total area of the museum is about 8,000 square meters (86,000 square feet).

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