The Hakasalmi Villa was built in 1843 by the procurator and privy counsellor Carl Johan Walleen as a combined city and country residence. The architect was E.B. Lohrmann of Berlin. Two wings were added to the front of the main building a little later. One of these presently houses a cafe.
The villa’s best-known resident was Aurora Karamzin, Walleen’s step-daughter. Aurora Karamzin was a famous beauty and a lady in waiting to the Russian empress in St. Petersburg. Her first husband, Paul Demidov, was one of the richest men in Russia. After the death of her second husband, Colonel Andrei Karamzin, she withdrew from court life in St. Petersburg and moved to Helsinki. She used the wealth she had inherited from Demidov to conduct charity work and was an influential social figure in 19th century Finland.
Aurora Karamzin sold the Hakasalmi Villa to the City of Helsinki in 1896 but continued to live there until her death in 1902. The villa was then rented to the predecessor of the National Museum of Finland for exhibition use. Since 1912 it has been part of the City Museum. It houses changing exhibitions on the history of Helsinki