Let us step backwards in time tonight and enter the National Library of Finland. Standing directly opposite the grand Helsinki Cathedral, it’s stateliness and position are a testament to the importance of knowledge and books to the Finnish people.
The main hall was built between 1840-1845, and, quite frankly, stately may well be an understatement. Rife with classical details from floor to column to ceiling to dome, there is no doubt that this is a hallowed place for the books that encircle the room. Every direction you look is a rich tapestry of colour, texture, and form.
The rotunda, built between 1902-1906, is more spare but no less impressive. Reminding me a bit of the Library of Parliament in Ottawa, the radial rows of books climb balcony by balcony towards the large skylight overhead. I love the difference between it and the main hall, showcasing the newer motifs of its day with highly artful and expressive cast iron columns, railings, and details, not to mention the skylight, reminiscent of the Crystal Palace from the Great Exhibition of 1851.
And to cap it off, the side/secondary reading rooms just keep that grandness going strong.
For the nation’s archives and repository of its cultural record, there is nothing sad about this building at all; it is fitting and mighty fine. Here are a couple of 360~ views! One in the main hall, and one in the rotunda.
The National Library of Finland by C L Engel, Gustaf Nyström, and others.