Skolt Sámi Heritage, Toivo Immanuel Itkonen (1891–1968), and the Sámi Collections at the National Museum of Finland


  • Eeva-Kristiina Harlin University of Oulu
  • Veli-Pekka Lehtola University of Oulu



The National Museum of Finland is repatriating their entire Sámi collection to the Sámi museum Siida in Inari. This article illustrates the type of collected material that is to be returned, and what kind of tradition of representation the Sámi museum Siida will have to deal with in the repatriation. A remarkable part of the Sámi collections in the National Museum of Finland has been provided by the well-known Finnish Lappologist, T. I. Itkonen. Due to his many research trips in 1912–1927, altogether 91 per cent of his collections originate from the Skolt Sámi area in the Pechenga region and Kola Peninsula. In exhibitions curated by Itkonen for the National Museum, the Skolt Sámi objects seem to have been relatively well represented, although subjected to the almost compulsory representation of reindeer herding. Because of Itkonen’s collection, the repatriation of the whole Sámi collection of the National Museum to the Siida Sámi Museum has an especially poignant meaning for the Skolt Sámi community.

Author Biographies

Eeva-Kristiina Harlin, University of Oulu

Giellagas Institute for Saami Studies

Master of Arts 

Veli-Pekka Lehtola, University of Oulu

Giellagas Institute for Saami Studies

Ph.D., Professor of Saami Cultural Studies