Finnish Museum of Natural History

Zoological collections

The zoological collections of the Finnish Museum of Natural History comprise more than 9 million specimens and sample lots, most of which are insects. In addition, the Zoology Unit hosts valuable monitoring data of annual bird censuses and phenology. The collections and data are used for research and teaching and to support decision making in the environmental administration. The international acronym for the collection of the Zoological Museum in Helsinki is MZH.

Browse collections »

Vertebrate collections

The vertebrate collections presently comprise about 140 000 specimens. Mammals and birds are usually represented as skins or skeletons, and sometimes as stuffed animals. Fishes, amphibians, and reptiles in turn are kept in alcohol. A majority of the vertebrate samples are from Finland. The museum also hosts a large, internationally valuable bird egg collection. A frozen tissue collection of vertebrate material has been started for purposes of DNA analyses. The collections are primarily used for research purposes, but some specimens are on display in the museum’s public exhibition.

Scientific and technical collection magagers. Please contact the curator or collection manager for loans and practical inquiries. email addresses:
  Curator (scientific) Collection manager, senior museum technicians
  Alexandre Aleixo (birds, osteology) Hanna Laakkonen (loans etc)
  Risto Väinölä (fishes, mammals) Outi Ovaskainen (mammals, birds, fishes)
  Hanna Laakkonen (reptiles, amphibians) Janne Granroth (osteology)

Entomological collections

Senior museum technician Jere Kahanpää working in the new insects collection vault, where millions of insect specimens are stored (Photo: Pekka Malinen/Luomus)

The entomological collections contain about nine million specimens. Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, Hymenoptera and Diptera are the best represented groups. Close to half of the insects are from Finland. The majority of the specimens are pinned or mounted on cards. They are stored in an acclimatized hall underground. Certain groups with small and soft-bodied species are kept in ethanol or mounted on slides.

The insect collections of the Finnish Museum of Natural History are among the largest in Europe. Their history spans two centuries. They currently contain an estimated 45 000 type-specimens, and undoubtedly a considerable number of so far undescribed exotic species.

Book access to the Entomological Collection

Scientific and technical collection managers. Please contact the technical manager for loans and other practical inquiries. email addresses:
Collection magagers: scientific technical
Coleoptera Sergei Tarasov Jaakko Mattila
Lepidoptera Lauri Kaila Pekka Malinen
Diptera Jere Kahanpää (interim) Jere Kahanpää
Hymenoptera Juho Paukkunen (interim) Juho Paukkunen
Other insect orders Heidi Viljanen (interim) Heidi Viljanen

Invertebrate collections

Historical mollusc samples stored in alcohol

The invertebrate collection covers the majority of animal diversity, i.e., all animal groups excluding insects and vertebrates. The collection currently comprises some 400 000 labeled samples. Most of those are stored in ethanol. The focus is on the Finnish fauna. Best represented are spiders, mites, molluscs, oligochaetes and turbellarians. Approximately half of the material is so far electronically catalogued.



Scientific and technical collection managers. Please contact the curator or the collection manager for loans and other practical inquiries.
Subcollection Curator  Senior museum technicians & collection manager
Terrestrial invertebrates (spiders, molluscs, worms etc.) Pedro Cardoso Timo Pajunen, Outi Ovaskainen
Aquatic invertebrates (crustaceans, molluscs etc.) Risto Väinölä  Katja Nylund 
    Hanna Laakkonen (loans etc.)

Monitoring data

The Zoology Unit coordinates a variety of national bird monitoring schemes which (i) collect background data on distribution and abundance of birds and their habitat requirements, (ii) monitor changes in distribution and abundance of birds and bird assemblages, (iii) measure the speed and direction of these changes with particular attention to declining species, and (iv) investigate long-term effects of changes in the environment. Thousands of volunteers participate in bird monitoring activities each year. The key monitoring methods include e.g. line and point censuses, winter bird censuses, waterbird censuses, a nest record card study and monitoring of birds of prey. In addition, the Zoology Unit also hosts the Finnis Bird Ringing Centre.

Each year, the Zoology Unit and Societas Scientiarum Fennica (Suomen tiedeseura) collect phenology observations of the Finnish fauna and flora. Approximately 100 volunteers report for instance on when the frogs start to spawn, when the hedgehogs wake up in spring and when the Bohemian waxwings arrive from north to south in the autumn. 


Person in charge of the page: 
Eläintieteen yksikön johtaja