A major exhibition to celebrate the history of Suomenlinna as a fortress of three nations

A major exhibition demonstrating the history of Suomenlinna from the 18th century all the way to the 2020s will open at the National Archives of Finland and the Suomenlinna Centre on Wednesday 12 May. The exhibition celebrates the work the Ehrensvärd Society has done for Suomenlinna. The purpose of the Ehrensvärd Society is to inform the public and researchers of Suomenlinna and its history. In May, the Ehrensvärd Society will celebrate its 100th anniversary. 

The Viapori–Suomenlinna fortress has belonged to three nations: to Sweden from 1748 to 1808, to the Russian Empire from 1808 to 1918, and to Finland since 1918. Because of its diverse history, the fortress is among authentic internationally attractive cultural environments, and is currently also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Exhibitions complemented by events and a publication

The exhibitions to open at the National Archivers of Finland and the Suomenlinna Centre will show original material related to the history of Viapori–Suomenlinna. The documents and artefacts at the exhibitions will mainly come from the collections of the National Archives, and Swedish and Russian museums and archives. A broad range of interesting exhibits to read and see will be on display about the royal navy, the ship building tradition, naval warfare, royalties, vessels, influential Russian families, and life next to the capital, not forgetting love and romance. The exhibitions will be open until 30 September 2022. 

In addition to the exhibitions, there will also be various events and an anniversary publication. The anniversary weekend organised by the Ehrensvärd Society between 20 and 22 August 2021 will feature visits by a Finnish and Swedish naval vessel to Suomenlinna. Other key events include the 300th anniversary of the birth of Admiral Fredrik Henrik af Chapman (9 September 2021), a shipbuilder who worked in Suomenlinna, and the 500th anniversary of the Swedish Navy (7 June 2022). All events will be arranged following valid coronavirus restrictions. An updated event calendar will be published on the exhibition’s website in April.  

The “Viapori–Suomenlinna – Kolmen valtakunnan linnoitus 1748–2021” (Viapori–Suomenlinna – A fortress of three nations 1748–2021) article published by the Ehrensvärd Society and the National Archives presents the history of the fortress from the 1740s to the modern age. The publication has been edited by Jussi Nuorteva, director general of the National Archives, and Päivi Happonen, director of research. Featuring many illustrations, the publication will be issued in Finnish and Swedish on the opening day of the exhibitions. The aim is also to issue an English and Russian edition during 2022 at the latest. 

From a military base to a tourist attraction

Viapori–Suomenlinna has played a significant role for the City of Helsinki. Financially alone its significance has been high: at the beginning of the 19th century, its population was larger than that of Helsinki. The fortress also had its part to play in Helsinki becoming the capital of Finland. Today, Suomenlinna is one of Finland’s most popular tourist attractions, with more than one million visitors every year. 

The Ehrensvärd Society is a non-profit association, whose goal is to inform the greater public of the unique history and buildings of Viapori–Suomenlinna. It maintains the Ehrensvärd Museum and operates the Suomenlinna Museum together with the National Museum of Finland, and arranges guide services in Suomenlinna.

Further information:
Jussi Nuorteva, Director General, National Archives of Finland; Chair, Ehrensvärd Society, jussi.nuorteva(at), tel. +358 40 592 5131

Päivi Happonen, Director of Research, National Archives of Finland, paivi.happonen(at), tel. +358 50 468 8762

Lars Karhunen, Director of Operations, Ehrensvärd Society, lars.karhunen(at)

For more information on the activities of the Ehrensvärd Society, please visit