The Arktikum was designed by the Danish architects Birch-Bonderup & Thorup-Waade. The crescent-shaped new building was designed by Bonderup and Lehtipalo and it was completed in autumn 1997.
Plenty of local natural building materials have been used in the building: the floors are made from Perttaus granite – the hardest type available in Finland – and from lime-washed Lappish pine. The chairs are made from birch and reindeer hide.
The visible part of the museum, the glass tube, is 172 metres long in all and it is dissected by the 30-metre wide highway to Kittilä. It is covered with around one thousand panes of toughened glass, each two square metres in size. The tube serves as the “Gateway to the North”, as the entrance foyer is at the southern end and the other end faces north. The exhibition space is sheltered below the ground, mimicking the way that nature in the north takes cover from the harsh, cold winter.