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08.09.2020

Museum of Church Art (Kuopio)

RIISA - Museum of the Finnish Orthodox Church - is a specialized museum of national and international importance, located in Kuopio, and is managed by the Fund of the Museum of the Finnish Orthodox Church. Its mission is to study, preserve, preserve and manage the material and visual cultural heritage of the Finnish Orthodox Church. In addition to exhibition activities, education and training are an important part of the museum's activities. 

The museum was founded in Kuopio in 1957. Its predecessor can be considered the Collection of Antiquities, founded in 1911 at the Valaam Monastery in Ladoga, its own museum of the monastery, which kept valuable items and fabrics of the monastery. 

The museum was opened to the public in spring 2015 after a long reconstruction. In less than 2015, the Museum of the Finnish Orthodox Church still registered 10,020 visitors, of which 2531 were booked free of charge.

The birth of the museum collections is firmly connected with the war and evacuation. The main collection of the museum comes from the Karelian Orthodox parishes and monasteries of Valamo, Konevets and Petsamo, which Finland lost to the Soviet Union as a result of World War II.

The artifacts evacuated from the monasteries and parishes are one of the most significant collections of icons, church objects and fabrics in the West. The collection consists mainly of items from the XVIII-XVIII centuries. Pearls of the collections include gifts brought to the monasteries by Russian rulers as "gifts" to the founder of the Konevets Monastery, St. Arsen. include a crucifix and a wooden braid from the XIV-XIV centuries, as well as Georgian-Byzantine cell miniatures from the XII century. Own ensemble consists of rare books in Church Slavonic and Russian languages, among which there are both printed and handwritten and illustrated works. The museum has an extensive collection of photographs, as well as a collection of construction drawings and maps. The collections have been accumulated over the years through donations, deposits and the museum's own purchases.

Museum of the Finnish Orthodox Church is located in a building designed by Dag Englund in 1969.

In 2009, began a large-scale reconstruction of the main building of the Orthodox Church, which also houses a museum, which closed the main exposition of the museum. Reconstruction of the exhibition spaces of the church museum began in July 2013, at the same time began construction of a new permanent exhibition. Updated main exposition on the Stairs of the Holy Stairs was completed by spring 2015. The museum was opened under the new name Riisa - Museum of the Finnish Orthodox Church.

Since 2010, the company Partanen & Lamusuo Oy, with extensive experience in exhibition design, is a partner in museum renovation. Partanen & Lamusuo Oy is an architecture, art and design studio in Kuopio, owned by architect Heikki Lamus and artist Jaana Partanen. The idea of gold and silver rice, proposed by Partanen & Lamusuo Oy, was adopted as a basis for reforming the exhibition, public spaces and graphic image. Metal rice protects the icon, but at the same time leaves it visible. Similarly, precious cultural treasures are kept in the museum, but only part of them is exhibited at the same time. Riisa's decorations, ornaments and patterns are combined with rich Byzantine traditions. At the exhibition "On the Stairs of Sainthood", Partanen & Lamusuo Oy wanted to emphasize the rich world of colors and the radiance of gold and silver, associated with both Byzantine and Karelian Orthodox traditions. Attention is also paid to the world of sound, for example through the carpet associated to the content of the exhibition, so that the museum experience becomes calm and special. The handwriting of Partanen & Lamusuo Oy also includes several pieces of furniture in the multi-purpose space, in the store and in the exhibition halls themselves. 

At the bottom of the church museum is a church space for silence and worship. Visiting the Finnish Orthodox Church in the Karelian Diocese is called the Church of St. Apostle John the Theologian and the Karelian Enlightenment. This church, also known as the Home Church of the Archbishop, was consecrated by Archbishop Paul on November 26, 1969.

The building also has a multi-purpose space, which can be used, for example, for school classes.

The most famous objects of the church museum include

miracle-working Konevskaya icon of the Mother of God Riis (gilded silver, decorated with pearls and precious stones, made in St. Petersburg, 1893).
Icon of the Mother of God Akatist, miraculously revered icon, exhibited in the Church Museum
Icon of the Mother of God is prophetic (Orianthi, Znamenie) with gilded silver rice, partially embroidered beads, blue sapphire on the forehead of the Mother of God.

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