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07.08.2020

Turku Art Museum

Turku Art Museum is one of the most important art museums in Finland, located in Turku, on Puolalanmäki Hill (Aurakatu, 26).

The building of the museum was built in the style of national romanticism by architect Carl Gustav Nustrem. The basis of the art collection was laid by the Turku Art Society organized in 1891 by Gustav Signeus (1851-1907), a lecturer, journalist and the first chairman of the society. The society's activities were facilitated by the fact that Signeus was deputy head of the Turku Municipality Council. The collection of paintings was formed in the spring of 1904 and handed over to the city on April 30. The next day the exposition was ceremonially opened in the new building of the museum. The catalogue included 479 works by 137 exhibitors selected by Albert Edelfelt and Eero Yarnefelt. For five weeks in new gallery visited 8 thousand visitors (population of city at that time - about 42 thousand people).

Thanks to the new building, the Art Society's exhibition activities were expanded: in addition to the permanent exhibition, 3-5 exhibitions were held in the building between 1904 and 1914, in which almost all famous Finnish artists participated. In 1909, an exhibition of Danish art was held, and in 1912, works by Swedish artist Karl Larsson were exhibited. In 1909, works by Edward Munch were exhibited in Helsinki, and the museum bought a lithograph of his self-portrait.

In 1912 electric lighting appeared in the gallery, which was paid for by the patron brothers Ernest and Magnus Dahlström. Thanks to them, the museum's collection was enriched with a valuable collection of paintings. The new gallery also housed an art school, which took up a quarter of the premises on the ground floor.

In 1919, the first curator of the gallery, Viktor Westerholm, died and Ragnar Ungern, a teacher at the art school, was appointed temporary curator. He performed this position until 1929, when the permanent curator of the collection was Axel Haartmann, who did a lot to maintain the traditions of urban art life. During his time in the gallery, the museum's collection tripled, and the lack of exhibition space became very acute. Part of the permanent exhibition was dismantled and replaced by temporary exhibitions. In this regard, in 1933 the art school left the museum premises.

In 1970, the museum was enlarged by a large private collection from the Niels Dahlström collection, which included several valuable paintings by Albert Edelfelt, Axel Gallen-Kallela and Helena Schjerfbeck.

Since 1971, the museum has exhibited the sculptures of Jussi Mäntünen, his gift to the city, and in 1976 a catalogue of this collection was published. In 1958-1965 the gallery underwent its first serious restoration under the direction of architect Karl Sandelin, with the lobby and staircase remaining unchanged, as well as wooden panels and ornamental decorations - examples of Art Nouveau architecture. Founded in 1924, the Turku Artists' Association is now responsible for showing the works selected by a special jury. While the annual exhibitions of the Art Society, which have been held since 1891 and have not stopped even in wartime, were thematically oriented or dedicated to the work of an individual artist, the nature of temporary exhibitions has changed.

The anniversary exhibition of 1961, dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Art Society, was dedicated to Väinje Aaltonen and served as the basis for the creation of the Väinje Aaltonen Museum in 1967.

In 1981, the Turku Art Museum received the status of a regional museum, and the major restoration and construction of the underground storage facility, which was completed in 2009, solved the problem of lack of space.

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