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13.07.2020

Ateneum, Helsinki

Ateneum is an art museum in Helsinki, Finland, and one of the three museums forming the Finnish National Gallery. It is located in the centre of Helsinki, on the south side of Rautatientori Square, not far from Helsinki Central Station. It is home to Finland's largest collections of classical art. Previously the Ateneum also housed the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts and the University of Arts and Design in Helsinki, but since 1991 it has been the only museum. The Ateneum building is owned by the Senate of Real Estate (in Finnish: Senaatti-kiinteistöt), a state real estate company.

Ateneum's collections include extensive collections of Finnish art, ranging from 18th century Rococo portraits to 20th century experimental artistic movements. The collections also include around 650 works of international art. One of them is Rue Vincent Van Gogh in Auvers-sur-Oise (1890): when the painting was deposited in 1903, Ateneum was the first museum in the world to house a painting by Vincent Van Gogh. Among other noteworthy works - "The Luxembourg Garden" by Albert Edelfelt (1887), "Triptych Aino" by Axelie Gallen-Kallela (1891), "Under the yoke" by Eero Yarnefelt (1893) and "The Wounded Angel" by Hugo Simberg (1903).

The Ateneum building was designed by Theodor Hoyer and completed in 1887.

The Ateneum facade is decorated with statues and reliefs, which contain many symbols. Above the main entrance, on the first floor, there are busts of three famous classical artists: the architect Bramante, the artist Raphael and the sculptor Fidias. Above the busts, on the third floor, four caryatids support the pediment. They represent four classical art forms: sculpture, painting, geometry and architecture. The culmination of the facade is a collage of sculptures, in which the goddess of art Pallas Athena blesses products of various art forms. All sculptures are by Carl Aneas Szesstrand. Between the windows of the second floor there are 16 medallion reliefs of Ville Vallgren, depicting the most famous creative people of Finland of their time, including the artist Alexander Lavreus, Werner Holmberg and architect Carl Ludwig Engel.

Under the collage gable is a phrase in Latin: Concordia res parvae crescunt. It translates as "With consent little things increase" and is usually understood in Helsinki as a reference to the long battle of Finnish art circles to create a museum.

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