Icon Museums

Museums in Finland

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Wednesday 4 March 2009, by Icon Network


The field of study of the Orthodox Church Museum is one of a kind in Finland and in the whole of Scandinavia. The Orthodox Church Museum acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits, for purposes of study, education and enjoyment, material evidence and cultural heritage of the history of the Finnish Orthodox Church. The museum is supervised by the administration of the Orthodox Church in Finland.

Collections and exhibitions

- The Orthodox Church museum, which was established in Kuopio in 1957, derives from the Collection of Ancient Objects founded at the Monastery of Valamo in 1911. Most of the exhibits, which consist mainly of icons, sacred objects and liturgical textiles, are from the monasteries and congregations of Karelia: a region in southeast Finland that was partially ceded to the Soviet Union in connection with the Second World War. Objects in the museum are mainly from the 18th and 19th centuries.

- In addition to the permanent exhibitions, the museum offers yearly seasonal exhibitions. These theme-based exhibitions are aimed to introduce the variety of ecclesiastical art of eastern Christian Church.


The Orthodox Church Museum of Finland is located in the city of Kuopio, approximately 400 kilometers northeast from the capital of Finland, Helsinki.

Address: Karjalankatu 1, 70110 Kuopio, Finland,
Tel. +358 020 6100 266, Telefax +358 020 6100 261

www: http://www.ort.fi/kirkkomuseo
kirkkomuseo (at) ort.fi

Opening hours 2007-2008

Summer season from May 2nd to August 31st:
Tue, Thu - Sun from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm,
Wed 10 am to 6 pm.
Closed on Mondays

Winter season from September 4th to April 30th:
Tue -Fri from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Sat -Sun from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm,
Closed on Mondays

Museum is closed:
December 6th Independence Day
December 23th – 25th Christmas
January 1st New Year’s Day
January 6th Epiphany
April 6 th and 9th Easter
May 1st The first of May
June 22th – 24th Midsummer


- Adults 5 €/ 4€,
senior citizens and students 3 €
- Children between 7 and 16 years 1 €,
entry is free for children under 7

Guided tour 50 €

Guided tours for groups are arranged in different languages when booked in advance.

Bookings +358 0206100266
Fax +358 0206100 261

kirkkomuseo (at) ort.fi

Research and assistance

In addition to the research being done to produce exhibitions, the museum also conducts research by request. Analytic opinions are given concerning especially subject, age and condition of icons, sacred objects and textiles. Occasionally the results of research work are published.

The museum has remarkable pictorial and drawing archives, which are in addition to the museum’s reference library available for all researchers on request. Requests conerning museum archives must be done a week before arrival to museum.





- The Joensuu Art Museum is situated right in the town centre near the market square. The neo-Renaissance building, a former grammar school, was built in 1894 and designed by architect Theodor Decker. The Joensuu Art Museum was founded in 1962 as a result of two significant donations to the town, namely the collections of Olavi Turtiainen and that of Arla Cederberg. Somewhat later the town also received the collection of Onni Okkonen in two lots (1964 and 1972). These three donations form the nucleus of the museum’s collections. The collection of Olavi Turtiainen (1906-1961), an apothecary from Joensuu, consists mainly of works by established Finnish artists of the 1950’s. Turtiainen followed with interest the activities of a group of artists called Viiva ja väri (line and colour), e.g. Tapani Raittila, Helge Dahlman, Tuomas von Boehm, Per Stenius, Anitra Lucander. Outside this group, some other artists whose production had similiar esthetics also gained Turtiainen’s favour, e.g. Aarre Heinonen, Sakari Tohka, Mikko Hovi. Turtiainen managed to supplement his collection with earlier Finnish art, too: The paintings Narcissus and Drinking Bacchante from Magnus Enckell’s Symbolist period, Hugo Simberg’s etchings, A.W.Finch’s and Thesleff’s paintings. Two Italian sculptors, Marino Marini and Giacomo Manzu, were also in Turtiainen’s favour.

The donation of medical counsellor Hagar Vaher (1898-1982) supplemented in a harmonous way Olavi Turtiainen’s collection. Vaher was a friend of Turtiainen and interested in the same kind of art. Arla Cederberg’s (1886-1961) collection is very elegant in tone and presents some, though fragmentary, examples of Finnish painting from the mid 19th century to the turn of this century. For example, represented in this lyrical collection are Werner Holmberg, R.W.Ekman, Magnus von Wright, Albert Edelfelt, Gunnar Berndtson, Berndt Lindholm, Hjalmar Munsterhjelm and Aukusti Uotila.

Professor Onni Okkonen’s work as art historian clearly influenced his art acquistions. He said in one interview that the numerous works of art from different periods surrounding him at home gave him enthusiasm for his work and they focused attention on the periods in question. His collection of Antiguity contains Greek and Etruscan specimens, as well as Roman items from Hellenistic period. Central and Southern European pictorial and sculptural art from 14th century onwards forms a whole of its own. Okkonen’s Chinese collection is a rarity in Finland, a versatile presentation of Chinese art. Most of this collection is from Tang period (AD 618-907). Represented in his Finnish collection are, for example, Wäinö Aaltonen, Juho Rissanen, Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Helene Schjerfbeck, Ellen Thesleff, Alvar Cawn, Tyko Sallinen and Erik Granfelt. Painter Anitra Lucander, who is represented in Turtiainen’s collection, donated in 1983 drawings and graphic art. Her Persian bowls supplemented well the Oriental carpets and silverwork belonging to Turtiainen’s collection, as well as the Persian bowls in Okkonen’s collection.

In 1984 Anna-Lisa and Arnold Glave from Malmö, Sweden, donated to the museum a wide collection of Oscar Parviainen’s works. Along with the another donation five years later museum received almost the whole production of Parviainen. This donation was inspired by the fact that Parviainen’s family came from Northern Carelia, and by Parviainen’s commemorative exhibition held in Joensuu in 1980. A further contributing factor was the donators’ wish that this graphic artist and painter, who died in Sweden and held only a couple of exhibitions during his lifetime, should not be forgotten. In 1987 the museum received an interesting collection of Ina Colliander’s production from her heirs. Ina Colliander is best-known as a graphic artist but this collection consists of oil paintings, drawings and drafts from the whole of her long artist’s career. Russian Orthodoxy, which was near to Colliander’s heart, has impressed its mark on most of these works.

Juhani Berghem donated his icon collection to Joensuu Art Museum in 2000. The collection contains 58 icons mostly by finnish painters. The icons selected for the collection are predominately the work pf people who began their icon painting in 1960’s or later. The exhibition was designed by Fr. Paul Hesse, D.Theol., adopting the pattern of a procession behind the Cross, which is still a living tradition today in Finland and elsewhere in the Orthodox world, representing pilgrims on a journey, or a divine service in which the people pass through this world, following the cross and carrying their icons, praying and singing hymns, towards the glory that lies beyond.

- Art Museum gained a significant boost to its modern art collection last year by virtue of a substantial donation from the Helsinki art devotee Carl-Johan af Forselles, the agreement for which was signed on 23.1.2007. af Forselles has been well known in artistic circles for decades as a connoisseur of modern art, he has written numerous articles about contemporary artists and their work and has acted as an advisor in the construction of exhibitions. He struck up friendships with artists such as Lars-Gunnar Nordström, Per Stenius, Anitra Lucander and Tapani Raittila from the 1940s onwards and gradually began acquiring their works, until he had amassed a collection of substantial proportions, comprising more than 470 items altogether.

- In addition to the permanent exhibition, the museum arranges ten temporary exhibitions of Finnish or foreign art every year.