Bank museum

Nordea Bank Museum is located in the Union Bank of Finland's Old Banking Hall at the address Aleksanterinkatu 36 B, Helsinki. Completed in 1898, the building was designed by architect and professor Gustaf Nyström. Its exterior features 11 reliefs designed by sculptor Walter Runeberg. The building was used as a bank branch until 1936. Photo: Kasakka Media.

Aleksanterinkatu 36 B, Helsinki. The museum is located in the vault of the building and is not wheelchair accessible. The wooden front door of the building is usually locked but has a buzzer. The next open house will be on Thursday 3 January 15.00-17.00. Guided tours at 15.00 and 16.00. No pre-booking required. Welcome!

Open doors once per month. 
Open to groups on weekdays as agreed. Free entrance. Bookings: Kukka-Maaria Nummi, tel 050 561 9518, moc.aedron@immun.airaam-akkuk.

Permanent exhibitions

There is a fully-furnished bank interior designed by architects Gesellius, Lindgren & Saarinen on display at the museum. Dating back to 1904, the interior is a valuable specimen of cultural heritage. Part of the old banking hall and the manager's office are open for visitors. Banking memorabilia collected from a variety of commercial banks add to the historic atmosphere.

The museum's permanent exhibition includes an exhibition on the history of Finnish commercial banking starting from the establishment of the Union Bank of Finland in 1862 over 156 years ago. The exhibition focuses on the customer's point of view and showcases the banking services available to the customer.

There are memorabilia on display from each of Nordea's predecessor banks: a share certificate, bank book, piggy bank or some other object or piece of equipment that was used in the bank. The exhibition also features rare banknotes issued by the Union Bank of Finland in 1866 and 1882.

The museum's collection includes a multimedia exhibition, which showcases the evolution of banking technology as well as the branches of Nordea's predecessor banks. You can watch their old television commercials starting from the 1960s. 

Gustaf Nyström as the Architect for Bank Buildings

The exhibition is displayed at the bank museum from 9 March to 31 December 2018.

Gustaf Nyström (1856–1917) was one of the most renowned and distinguished Finnish architects of his generation. Nyström had a wide impact on the architecture and urban planning of the Grand Duchy of Finland. In addition to his career in architecture, he worked as an architecture teacher and a professor. The first architects in independent Finland were all trained by Nyström. 

Nyström's main projects include the National Archives building, the House of the Estates and the residential building Atlas, which were all built in Helsinki between 1890 and 1891. The wide variety of his designs includes dignified state buildings and premises for the business and cultural life as well as residential living.

At the turn of the century, Nyström's architect firm was particularly busy with several new designs. The head office of the Union Bank of Finland in Helsinki was also designed during this time. Soon after that, Nyström was commissioned to design several other branches for both the Union Bank of Finland and the Bank of Finland.

The bank museum's exhibition celebrates the 120-year-long history of the Old Banking Hall at Aleksanterinkatu, Helsinki.

Exhibition design and script: Teppo Jokinen, Kukka-Maaria Nummi.

The exhibition's patron is Arts Promotion Centre Finland.

Staff uniforms and dress codes

To ensure a clean and professional look, bank workers used to wear staff uniforms. Of all commercial banks, the Union Bank of Finland and Suomen Työväen Säästöpankki held on to the staff uniform policy for the longest. Helsingin Osakepankki had staff uniforms for some time but the last uniform was introduced in 1962.

Kansallis-Osake-Pankki did not have a common uniform for the whole bank but some of the branches favored a uniformed look. Usually the staff uniforms were only worn by women but sometime there were also staff uniforms available for the male tellers.

The staff uniforms were the bank workers' primary work clothes, but the tellers were also allowed to wear other outfits and accessories that fit in with the style. Miniskirts and other daring clothing were frowned upon.

Although staff uniforms are no longer worn, the dress code for bank workers has remained business professional. "As a rule of thumb, if we are not completely sure if the outfit is appropriate for work, it would be best not to try it." This is just one example of the fashion instructions in 1960s which are still relevant today.

Nordea's history

Nordea's history in Finland begins with the establishment of the Union Bank of Finland, the first commercial bank in the country. The Senate approved the bank's license on 21 May 1862 and the bank began its operations in July the same year. 

SYP_Kuopion_konttori_v1897_218x158[1]

Photo: Union Bank of Finland, Kuopio, 1897.

Nordea's Finnish family tree includes three other main banks in addition to the Union Bank of Finland: Kansallis-Osake-Pankki, Helsingin Osakepankki and Suomen Työväen Säästöpankki (STS-pankkiOpens new window).

In total, Nordea's family tree in Finland consists of 25 commercial banks. Finland's first savings bank is also part of Nordea's history as the successors of the branches of Savings Bank of Turku were merged with the Union Bank of Finland when it acquired Suomen Säästöpankki in 1993. Though this, Nordea's oldest roots date back to 1822 in Finland.

The Union Bank of Finland and Kansallis-Osake-Pankki merged in 1995. They formed a new bank called Merita, but another merger was just around the corner. In 1998, Merita and the Swedish Nordbanken merged establishing the MeritaNordbanken Group.

The new name Nordea was adopted in the late 2001. At the time, the Danish Unibank and the Norwegian Christiania Bank og Kreditkasse had also joined the Group.

In Scandinavia, Nordea's predecessor banks include some of the oldest banks in the Nordic countries, such as Sparekassen for Kjobenhavn og Omegn (Denmark, founded in 1820), Wermlandsbanken (Sweden, founded in 1832) and Christiania Kreditkasse (Norway, founded in 1848).

Union Bank of Finland
Kansallis-Osake-Pankki
Helsingin Osakepankki
Family tree
Further information about Nordea's history

Museum objects

The bank museum's collection showcases the history and developments of commercial banking in Finland from the 1860s till this day. The collection of objects reveals the technical progress of the tools commonly used by businesses.

The historical objects at the museum comprise objects from the Finnish commercial banks which merged with Nordea's predecessor banks. The oldest objects date back to the founding days of the bank. The collection includes memorabilia from all of the predecessor banks across Finland. Some of the objects are work-related utilities and others business gifts given to the bank, but there are also some objects which were donated to the museum.

The museum is not systematically adding to the collection and only accepts objects used at the bank or gifted to the bank as donations if their background can be verified.

Shekin varmenninOdhner snurra
Photo: Check protector.Photo: Odhner, no 216.

Photo archive

Nordea's old photos have been scanned and they are stored in the photo archive of Central Archives for Finnish Business Records (ELKA). The photo archive features photos from Nordea's predecessor banks from the late 1800s to the 1900s. There are approximately 8,500 photos in total.

You can browse the photos by visiting ELKA's websiteOpens new window.

Clic "Haku" at the top of the page to open the search page:

· Enter the bank's name (for example KOP, SYP or HOP) in the field called "Vapaateksti".

· You can also filter the search results by time and location.

· Tick the "Kuva" box and press the "Haku" button to start the search.

You can get more tips on how to use the search function by hovering over the question mark icons (in Finnish). The photos in the archive are for browsing only. You can request high-resolution photos and permission to use them from ELKA.

See also:

You can find more information about Nordea's history and the museum by visiting the Our history page at nordea.comOpens new window and the WikipediaOpens new window-page of Nordea Bank Museum.

Other interesting links: