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The history of the Sámi Museum

The Sámi association Sámii Litto - Saamelaisten yhdistys ry. founded the Sámi Museum in 1959. Inari Sámi Museum was founded in 1959, and the gathering of buildings and artifacts also began the same year. The first buildings of the open-air museum were moved to the premises in 1960. Inari Sámi Museum was opened for the public for the first time in the summer of 1963; at that point, it was the first independent Sámi museum in the Nordic countries.

After two decades of activities, there was a need to make the museum more independent and to guarantee its existence and development. For this purpose, a foundation called Sámi museum – Saamelaismuseosäätiö (below “the Sámi Museum Foundation”) was established in 1986. The new museum building Siida, designed by architect Juhani Pallasmaa, was opened for the public in April 1998 in the immediate neighborhood of the premises of the old open-air museum. The unique Open-Air Museum is still an important part of the exhibition activities of the Sámi Museum.

In 1999, the Sámi Museum was granted the status of a national special museum. From the very beginning, the Sámi Museum Siida has worked actively in many spheres as part of the Sámi community of Finland.

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