About us


Purpose and history

marine culture and protection of the Baltic SEa

We save the Baltic Sea and its heritage for future generations.

The John Nurminen Foundation was founded in 1992, after Juha Nurminen’s initiative, to safeguard the cultural heritage of Finnish seafaring and maritime history. The cultural activities of the Foundation focus on the history of seafaring, exploration and cartography, and on disseminating information on these topics to the general public. We publish non-fiction on these themes, and lend items from our collection to exhibitions. We do not award grants, but may, upon consideration, provide support to small-scale projects on maritime history.Part of the Foundation’s collection is on display in the Huolintatalo premises in Länsi-Pasila, Helsinki. The collection consists of marine art, antique maps and items related to seafaring. The purpose of the Foundation is to present and introduce the remarkable cultural heritage of the Baltic Sea to experts and the general public alike. The maritime history operational branch is funded with income from exhibition ticket sales and grants, if any, and profits from the Foundation’s investment operations.

In 2004, with the backing of the initial capital donated by Juha Nurminen, the Foundation expanded its operations to include environmental protection. At this time, the Foundation established its second operational branch, the Clean Baltic Sea projects. The Foundation’s Clean Baltic Sea projects improve the status of the Baltic Sea with concrete measures that reduce the nutrient load and environmental risks faced by the sea. In 2005 – 2015, the Foundation has launched approximately 25 Clean Baltic Sea projects in northwestern Russia, Poland, the Baltic countries, and Belarus. 17 of the projects have been finalised, and as a result, the annual phosphorus load of the sea has been reduced by more than 2,000 tonnes. We continue to curb the nutrient load of the sea through the projects launched in 2015: Archipelago Sea Local Fishing, NutriTrade, and BEST. The Clean Baltic Sea projects are financed with private donations and public funding.

Our story begins in Rauma

The Nurminen family business was established in Rauma in 1886, when Johan Matinpoika, the great-grandfather of Juha Nurminen, set up a store selling timber, ship supplies, and imported goods. Johan gave up farming and moved from the Rauma rural commune to the city of Rauma, settling down in Aaltola, a house he had built there. In connection with the move, Johan began using the name Johan Nurminen. In 1891, Johan Nurminen commissioned the construction of the schooner Uljas and became a shipping entrepreneur.

In the 1930s, John Nurminen Oy began assembling the collection of maritime art, antique maps and marine antiquities which today constitute the basis of the Foundation’s cultural activities. This was the time when maritime counsellor Matti Nurminen made an acquisition on behalf of the family firm – now a shipping company – in Paris, purchasing naval charts from 1764 that depict the territorial waters of Finland. These charts constituted the core of our current collection of antique maps. For more than 30 years Juha Nurminen, founder and chairman of the Foundation, has continued the work of his father by adding items to the collection.