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05.08.2020

Tampere Lenin Museum

The Lenin Museum in Tampere is a museum founded in 1946, which today presents the common history of Finland and the Soviet Union. It was the first Lenin Museum outside the Soviet Union.

The museum is located in the Kaakinmaa area, in the oldest part of the House of Tampere Workers, where Lenin and Joseph Stalin first met in 1905. Until 2013 the museum was owned by the Society of Finland-Russia and its permanent director until his retirement at the end of 2013 was Aimo Minkkinen. In addition to a permanent exhibition on Leninist themes, the museum also had changing exhibitions related to the Soviet Union and Russia. The street of the museum is Hämeenpuisto 28.

From the beginning of 2014 the Lenin Museum was united with the Working Museum in Verstaas administratively and under its responsibility. According to Verstaas, the exhibition at the Lenin Museum has been completely renovated since 1982, since the previous exhibition in Moscow represented a Brezhnev interpretation of history.  The merger probably saved the troubled museum. At the end of 2015, the museum was renovated and reopened in 2016. 

The renewed Lenin Museum was included in the national finalist of the year, the museum competition in spring 2017 and the European Museum of the Year competition in 2018. However, it did not reach the podium.

The Lenin Museum in Tampere was opened on January 20, 1946, a day before the 22nd anniversary of Lenin's death. The museum is located in the House of Tampere Workers in the same hall, where in 1905 and 1906 secret meetings of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party were held. At the first of these meetings, Lenin first met with Joseph Stalin, and at the second he promised his masters in Tampere that they would support the projects of Finnish independence. The hall was offered for use by the museum back in the 1920s, but it was only after World War II that the political climate was favourable for the project. In 1965, on the outer wall of the museum were opened bas-relief and memorial plaque of Lenin by Tapio Tapiovaara, the text of which reads: VI At historical meetings in this house in 1905 and 1906, Lenin expressed his sympathy for the will of our people to independence.

Unlike most of Lenin's museums, the Tampere Museum was not run by the Communist Party, but belonged to the Soviet-Finnish society. Its long-standing supporter was the Central Lenin Museum in Moscow, from which it received financial assistance and artifacts. The first Soviet tourists visited the museum in 1955, and it was part of the obligatory program of the Soviets, which visited Finland for decades. In 1986, the museum set a record for attendance: over 27,000 visitors, including about 20,000 Soviet visitors. Since 1976, the museum also houses the Lenin Memorial Room in Khakaniemi, Helsinki. The Memorial Room was located in the former apartment of police chief Gustav Rovio, where Lenin hid in the summer of 1917 on his way to St. Petersburg.

The Bureau of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union awarded the Lenin Museum the Medal of Friendship of Peoples for the work done by the Lenin Museum to acquaint Finnish citizens with Lenin's life and work. The Lenin Museum was then 40 years old. Andrey Gromyko, President of the Bureau, was the first to sign the Museum.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991 the statues of Lenin were demolished, and the Lenin Museums were closed all over Europe. In Russia, a debate began on whether the embalmed body of Lenin should be buried. Aimo Minkinen, director of the Lenin Museum, joked in 1993 that the museum could take Lenin's body in its collections. The joke was spread all over the world through Reuters news agency . After the Central Lenin Museum in Moscow closed in 1993, the Tampere Museum remained the last regular Lenin Museum in the world. The number of visitors to the Tampere Museum also decreased and it was threatened with closure; the Lenin Memorial Room in Helsinki was closed in 1995. However, at the same time the collapse of the cult of Lenin, led by the Soviet Union, also freed the museum, and it could criticize Lenin and the Soviet Union at its exhibitions. Since the late 1990s, the museum has again increased the number of visitors and gained international fame as "the only Lenin Museum in the world". Until the museum was annexed to Verstaas, the Finnish-Soviet Society continued its work. Until the end of 2013, the director of the museum was PhD Aimo Minkkinen. 

The relief of Lenin on the outer wall of the museum was vandalized several times. In 1977, three extreme right-wing party activists painted the relief with red paint; later men said that they initially planned to blow up the entire museum.  During the celebration of the museum's 50th anniversary in 1996, the bas-relief was stolen and found faded six months later. 

Pro Karelia ry, who demanded the return of Karelia, wanted to change the name of the museum to the Museum of Victims of Totalitarianism in 2009, and the association wanted to present Soviet totalitarianism as a sphere of activity of the museum.

UP