Peter von Nottbeck, one of the owners of the Finlayson cotton mill, bought a plot of land from the City of Tampere in 1893. The plan for this piece of land, situated at the top of a tall cliff, was to be where he would build his home.
The drawings for the building were prepared by Karl August Wrede, a famous architect, and the architectural plans for this stately home, named Milavida, were completed in 1897. The latter part of the 19th century was a time when previous architectural styles were frequently revisited, and indeed Milavida was influenced by many, quite different trends.
The interior is dominated by a high vestibule, surrounded by smaller rooms. The ground floor was intended for entertaining guests and meeting visitors, while the first floor was reserved for the family and their guests. The servants lived on the second floor.
Peter von Nottbeck’s family included four children: Iris (b. 1895), Andrée (b. 1897), and twins Alfred and Olga (b. 1898). Their mother, Olga von Nottbeck, died in Baden-Baden on the day of the twins’ birth. After burying his wife in the family grave in Lielahti, Peter von Nottbeck had to deal with difficulties in the construction of his yet unfinished mansion. One of the problems involved his contractor’s bankruptcy. In spring 1899, Peter von Nottbeck returned to his family in Paris, where he suddenly died of appendicitis. The palatial estate was now owned by the four orphaned infants, who lived at Milavida with their servants from the autumn of 1899 until autumn 1902.
The Nottbecks left Tampere one after another, and this magnificent home was sold to the City of Tampere in 1905.
After buying the building, the City of Tampere renamed it Näsilinna. The building became the home of Tampere’s oldest museum, the Häme Museum, where the first exhibitions opened in 1908.
When the Finnish Civil War broke out, in January 1918, Tampere was in the hands of the socialist Reds. The Häme Museum closed its doors, and a Red Cross hospital moved in. Then, the Red Guards made Näsilinna into a military base. When the White Guards took over Tampere, Näsilinna became a battleground and suffered great damage: it was hit by over 4,000 shots and pieces of shrapnel. Almost all of its windows, doors, and tiled stoves were broken. The exhibitions were reopened to the public in 1920.
The museum survived the bombings of the Winter War with fairly little damage. In the following decade, its activities were booming and its new, modern exhibitions gave inspiration to other museums in Finland.
The museum was closed at the end of August 1998, to await a thorough renovation – which was postponed year after year.
The project finally began in autumn 2013: the roofs, façades, interiors, electrical systems and plumbing were all renovated. The entertaining rooms on the ground floor were restored to their original condition from the 1890s, with much attention to detail.