Kainuu Museum has artefact and photograph collections, as well as museum archives and an archive library. The museum’s collections have mainly been gathered through donations. Kainuu Museum’s storage activities are strongly focused on recording the life and phenomena of its own region. The museum accepts and seeks material for its collections that has a connection to Kainuu, for example through manufacture or use, and that reflects everyday life in Kainuu through the decades.
The museum began to collect artefacts immediately after the Kainuu Museum Association was founded in 1930. The Association assigned two scholarship students, Salomo Pulkkinen and Vietti Tolonen, the task of collecting objects from all over Kainuu. The museum’s collection of artefacts also grew in 1937, thanks to the home district expeditions made by the university students’ organisation known as the North Ostrobothnian Nation. In the beginning, the main emphasis in the accumulation of artefacts lay heavily in the peasant culture, such as old farming equipment.
When the responsibility for running the museum’s activities was transferred from the Kainuu Museum Association to the City in 1977, its artefact collection contained slightly over 3,000 examples. Today, the collection contains more than 21,000 artefacts. The artefact collections have also become more diverse over the last few decades, as material belonging to urban culture and recent decades has also been accumulated.
The museum’s archive collection consists, for example, of documents belonging to various associations, communities and private people. Today, the museum prefers to direct such document material to the Kainuu Local Heritage Archive, which operates in connection with the city archives and includes records concerning the entire Kainuu region acquired from both organisations and private people. However, the museum still keeps records, for example, of various kinds of printed matter (invitations, advertisements, etc.). Its archive collection also includes an archive library that has various old publications (books and small publications).