Time Machines and Utopias: Wanderlust

The Time Machines and Utopias is an exhibition series showcased in three museums in Tarvaspää, Ainola and Visavuori which explores the museums’ possibilities to operate in our changing society. The exhibition is based on the topical theme of climate change which will force us to re-think our day-to-day choices on food, travel and housing.  

The exhibition in Tarvaspää focuses on travel and transport. The artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s (1865–1931) travels across oceans and to virgin forests open new perspectives on the reasons for travel and wanderlust. The exhibition transports the audience from Tyrvää in the 1880s to New Mexico in the 1920s with a visit in Old Rauma and snow-covered Konginkangas. 

Exhibition invites us to reflect upon our relationship with travelling, mobility, and the experiences it affords us. The exploration is brought to life through contemporary art and soundscapes.  

The Finnish Cultural Foundation has funded the exhibition project under the Museum Vision grant. 








Contemporary artists: Vilma Määttänen, nabbteeri, Nestori Syrjälä, Markus Tuormaa, Flyin Squirrels Papana & Norkko, and Vidha Saumya & Ali Akbar Mehta.

Curating of the contemporary art

Hanna Johansson

Curating of the collections

Sandra Lindblom

Tarvaspää dialogies

Sini Forssell & Timo Järvensivu

Sound design

Joona Lukala & Eetu Moisio

Exhibition architecture

Alisha Davidow

Project Management

Mari Viita-aho

Graphic Design


Summer Concert

Mary Gallén's piano at the gallery of Tarvaspää atelje

Summer night concert at Tarvaspää  Su 18.7.2021 at 6 pm.

Tiina Karakorpi, piano
Helen Lindén, cello

Concert program consist of French and Finnish music from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Tickets 20€

More information and reservations: info@gallen-kallela.fi or phone: 0104068840

The Sampo and The Drum Club for Families

The Sampo and The Drum is a family club for children and families organized by The Gallen-Kallela Museum. In the club meetings we do various arts and crafts.

Sampo and the Drum Clubs at the Museum is on hiatus due to COVID-19 precautions. You can still get involved and make some art inspired by our videos!

Club theme in February is portraits. You can make portraits in many different ways. We present a couple of techniques in our videos below.

Portrait in beans: Make a portrait using a simple drawing and adding colors and texture with small objects, like beans or legos.

Monotyping: In this technique you can paint on a plexi-glass and print the image on a paper. You will need paintbrushes, glass or plexi-glass and paint. You can use acrylic paint, ink or even finger paint.

Club theme in March is Weaving. Instructions in these videos in Finnish.

Mini rya: Weave a little rya with a cardboard box loom! You will need a box, a ruler, pen, scissors, mask tape, variety of yarns, a bodkin needle  and a comb.

Rigid heddle loom from a plastic lid:  Inkle woven ribbon with a rigid heddle loom. You will need a plastic square lid, variety of yarns, marker pen, ruler, scissors, a hobby drill or other hole punch and a belt for your waist.



Would you like to propose an idea or craft for the club? Please contact:



Tarvaspää – The Next 500 Years

Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Sketch of Tarvaspää, 1911. The Gallen-Kallela Museum. Kuva: GKM.

This exhibition presents Tarvaspää, Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s castle-like studio and residence, and its stages of design and construction, and renovation in the late 1920s. The ‘crenelated castle’ of Tarvaspää was the artist’s uncompleted dream. It was meant to be a total work of art like its predecessor, Kalela, and to be bequeathed to posterity for displaying the works of the man who created it. ‘I’m not building for ourselves, but for the next 500 years’, noted Gallen-Kallela when speaking of Tarvaspää.


Continuous modifications, innovations and endless building work

Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s first studio and home, Kalela, was built at Ruovesi in 1895. It was of timber and the design was inspired by the vernacular architectural heritage of East Karelia. Its differences with regard to typical Karelian houses, however, were obvious, as the studio was fitted with a high roof and large windows. While living at Kalela, the artist had noticed that wood as a material will not last for future generations. Water seeped into the stone foundation and  basement of Kalela, rats thrived in the damp and the timber decayed, although the artist’s soul enjoyed the silence of the wilderness.

Gallen-Kallela chose to build his new studio in the yard area of the summer villa of Alberga Manor, owned by his mother-in-law. The site was on a small cape known as Linudd, with the villa, a gardener’s cabin and a gazebo that was demolished to make way for the new studio of reinforced concrete and white-plastered brick. Reinforced concrete was a new invention of the period that permitted the construction of supporting floors and pillars, and it began to be increasingly used.

Along with applying new building techniques, Gallen-Kallela carefully  considered the relationship of the studio with the overall setting of the yard area and its original buildings. The drawn plans from the early 1900s included workspaces and residential facilities for the artist’s pupils and an impressive winter conservatory. An observatory and a power plant running on wind energy on the roof and a wall structure joining the studio to the wooden villa were also left out of the final  plans. The main reason for the simplification of the plans was the family’s strained economic situation. The studio was built in its simplified form in 1911–1913.


Relocations and alterations

The family returned to Kalela in the autumn of 1915, when fortification works caused by the impending world war brought Russian soldiers all the way into the yard area of Tarvaspää. The Gallen-Kallelas returned to Tarvaspää in the late 1920s, when a kitchen, dwelling rooms and a modern bathroom with a bathtub and washbasin were constructed in the studio building. A waterspout resembling the head of a dragon was made for the tower. The construction and alteration work continued until the death of Akseli Gallen-Kallela. His widow, Mary Gallén, lived at Tarvaspää until 1939 and from time to time during the so-called interim peace of between the Soviet-Finnish Winter War of 1939–1940 and the Continuation War of 1941–1944. After the Continuation War, the house remained empty for over ten years.

In 1958 the studio castle and Villa Linudd were acquired by the Akseli Gallen-Kallela Museum Foundation. The Gallen-Kallela Museum was opened to the public in 1961 and it still operates in the building.


New technology

The exhibition includes an augmented reality 3D model of the unrealised plans for Tarvaspää produced by students of the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences.

Read more about the project



Nordic Noir

Jarmo Mäkilä: Bandidos, 2019. oil painting 203x151cm. Photo: Jouko Vatanen tmi.

This exhibition is an encounter of six Finnish and Norwegian artists extending beyond chronological limits. Akseli Gallen-Kallela is visited by Sverre Malling (born 1977), Louis Moe (1857–1945), Jarmo Mäkilä (born 1952), Odd Nerdrum (born 1944) and Hugo Simberg (1873–1917).

The sound piece of the exhibition is by Cornelius Jakhelln & Tvisyn.


The artists of this exhibition have in common myths, dream-like visions and images emerging from the subconscious along with a figurative manner of expression and technical skill. The symbolism of the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is juxtaposed with the ways in which contemporary artists address life and transitoriness.

What unites and separates us now, compared with a century ago?


Visions from the depths of history and the human mind

The new exhibition places contemporary works of art within the continuum of symbolism, carrying on in the spirit of our highly popular Inner Eye exhibition in the spring of 2019. It connects contemporary interest and research in symbolism and esotericism with the present day. The share roots of the artworks extend back to old German and Netherlandish art, such as Albrecht Dürer’s etchings, scientific illustrations, Rembrandt’s mysterious chiaroscuro, Goya’s Disasters of War and the tense moods of horror films.

Both The Slain Lemminkäinen (1896) by Akseli Gallen-Kallela and Sverre Malling’s Snowblind (2010) depicting a rock n’ roll figure killed by an
overdose of drugs find a parallel with The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb (1520–1522) by Hans Holbein the Younger, but also appear to be
definite mirror images of one another.

Odd Nerdrum: Tourette, 2011.


The tradition of vanitas paintings and dances of death have lived on as major question of life from one work of art and century to another. The skeleton figure can be seen in various situations in the works of both Louis Moe and Hugo Simberg and the skull can be found on Axel Gallén’s worktable in Paris and in the hand of a Bandidos character in Jarmo Mäkilä’s painting.

There is a mysterious mood to Odd Nerdrum’s paintings with their Rembrandtesque chiaroscuro. Fleshy figures in arrested landscapes move about in the interstices of the real and the unreal.


Questions of time and eternity

Art of the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries turned its gaze to inner worlds. Industrialisation began to reveal its negative aspects and artists yearned for spiritual values and authenticity. In our present era, there is the ever-present threat of an environmental catastrophe. On the other hand, threats may also come from within, from the subliminal and the subconscious. Familiar things become strange, rejected memories tease the individual on the borderlines of the mind and the self vacillates.

Art and its experience are always in a relationship with their period, its imagery and discourses. At the same time, questions regarded as timeless are the basic issues of art. Around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, art was a means for dealing with and attaining the esoteric, the sacred, the afterlife or the things falling in between the different worlds. Even today, art can serve as a way of talking about what is hard to grasp with words.

An article by Juha-Heikki Tihinen PhD on the heritage of symbolism and Nordic art noir will be published in connection with the exhibition.
Noir and Plus Noir

Akseli Gallen-Kallela: The Slain Lemminkäinen, 1896. Oil painting 35x85cm. The Gallen-Kallela Museum. Photo: GKM / Tuukka Uusitalo

The Embassy of Norway in Helsinki has kindly supported the exhibition.

Jenni Tieaho: The Black Swan

Black Swan and Other Strange Sights

Situated in the yard area of Tarvaspää, Black Swan is an exhibition marking Jenni Tieaho’s twentieth anniversary as a professional artist. It consists of eight works made by her in recent years.

The pieces construct a dream-like world, taking as their motifs swan boats and hybrid human-animal figures. They are mostly made from natural materials, such as wood, tarred willow and parts of plants native to Finland.


Black Swan and the swan in the shape of a boat   

The starting points of Tieaho’s works are in the mythology and mythical forest tales of Finland. For the artist, nature is like a nationality, her own language, yearning and partnership. The experience of nature permits her to form her own conception of time, boundaries, and good and evil.

The figure of the swan is associated with a great deal of symbolism and many beliefs and myths. In the ancient beliefs of the Baltic-Finnic peoples, the swan was thought to have been a human broken into becoming a bird. It was believed to have a contact to the different worlds, and it was not to be harmed. A swan swam in the black river of Tuonela in the Kalevala epic, and the hero Lemminkäinen loses his life when setting out to hunt it. Not all swans are white. Europeans saw black swans for the first time in Australia in 1697.

The ‘Black Swan’ is also concept created by the mathematician Nassim Nicholas Taleb to describe a highly unlikely event that cannot be predicted but will have a great effect.

In the exhibition, swan-boats built from willow withes into arching forms appear as the figures of the Black Swan.


Dream Horses and Seahorses

Along with swans the exhibition includes horse figures made of tree branches and the autumn fluff of rosebay willowherb. The white material associates the meanings of purity and a bringer of good lick to the horseheads. Horses have a diverse symbolism. They are a metaphor of freedom and a bridge to the subconscious. As a mythical creature, the seahorse lives in all elements, on dry land, in water, and in fire and air. It symbolises fidelity and mystical power.

In Tieaho’s human-animal figures, people are given the senses of animals and animals the intellect of humans. The horse-human figures represents the complete merging of the cognisant and the instinctive.



Jenni Tieaho (born 1969) lives and works in Siuntio. She has held exhibitions regularly since 1997. Her works are included numerous collections, including the art collections of the Finnish state and the Saastamoinen Foundation. She has made the public artwork Jylhyys Hiidenhirvi  depicting a moose or European elk at Korkeasaari Zoo in Helsinki.

The Black Swan has received support from the Finnish Cultural Foundation ( The Eeva Rauhankallio Fund), Arts Promotion Centre Finland and the City of Espoo.



The Inner Eye

Occultism and esoteric movements achieved unprecedented popularity in the late 19th century. Many artists were inspired by spiritualism, theosophy and the study of psychic phenomena, which came to be known later as parapsychology.

Clairvoyance became one of the most fascinating topics of the period. Many people believed that the sixth sense and the inner eye of the soul made it possible to perceive the more subtle levels of reality that would normally remain unseen. Artists began to portray themselves, their friends and the masters that they admired as extrasensory seers and psychics.

The exhibition focuses on art of the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Along with Akseli Gallen-Kallela, it features Pekka Halonen, Hugo Simberg, Beda Stjernschantz, Ellen Thesleff, Sigrid af Forselles and Sigurd Wettenhovi-Aspa. Also on display are later works from the 20th century by Ester Helenius and Eemu Myntti, an contemporary artist Veli Granö among others.


The curator of the exhibition is Nina Kokkinen, a researcher of art and religion and the present exhibition is largely based on her published doctoral dissertation.





The Kalevala, In Other Words

Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Lemminkäinen’s Mother, undatad. The Gallen-Kallela Museum. Photo: GKM / Jukka Paavola

What is the role of the Kalevala in present-day FinlandThe Kalevala epic had an important role  in constructing Finnish identity, but what does it mean to be Finnish in 2019? By now at the latest it is  time to consider critically the kind of identity that is created with the aid of the Kalevala 

A less-known Kalevala  

Could Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s art lead to new perspectives on the national epic of Finland, or tell new stories about it? The Kalevala fascinated Gallen-Kallela throughout his career. Many of the related works have been given less attention, or they remained unfinished. 

The exhibition will display several less-known themes and motifs. Along with paintings, it will include small works on paper and sketches. The preliminary works point to unrealised major works and the world of the Kalevala as inexhaustible source of ideas for the artist. The unfinished immense undertaking known as The Complete Kalevala was one of the most important works of Gallen-Kallela’s late oeuvre. It was to be a synthesis of the artist whole output. In its visual work, the runes or cantos of the Kalevala are juxtaposed with influences and symbols from different cultures, including the visual traditions of Native Americans. 

The coming exhibition will focus on the characters of the Kalevala in the work of Akseli Gallen-Kallela. Their various aspects in both the runes and in Gallen-Kallela’s works open up the stories and tales from fresh perspectives. What kind of women appear in the Kalevala? What forms of symbolism did Gallen-Kallela use in his illustrations? What did the Kalevala mean to Akseli Gallen-Kallela?  

Story-telling from around the world  

Cultural impulses have always moved and stories have always lived on in oral tradition as they have been passed on from one narrator to another. The exhibition considers the Kalevala alongside the story-telling traditions of the world. The Kalevala contains influences from many other epics and shares features with them. As is known, stories and tales were passed on, for example, by itinerant traders. 

The museum staff took on the role of Lönnrot and collected tales from contemporary people in collaboration with the Sello library in Espoo. People today have much faster mobility than in the past, and languages of various linguistic families are spoken in Finland. As a result of the collecting of stories, visitors to the museum can hear old songs, poems and stories in Lithuanian, Finnish, Hindi, Arabic and other languages.  


A present-day idyll  

A contemporary interpretation for the exhibition is provided by the Lintukoto (Idyll) installation made by the Espoo Artists’ Guild in honour of its tenth anniversary. It is a joint work by Sirkku Ala-Harja, Nina Bask, Marja Blomster, Tapio Haapala, Esa Hyvärinen, Sanna Juujärvi-Bremer, Carita Maury, Mauno Mecklin, Tapio Nyyssönen, Anne Ovaska, Topi Ruotsalainen, Barbara Tieaho and Noora Ylipieti. 

Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Sketch for frescoes of the National Theatre, 1928. The Gallen-Kallela Museum. Photo: GKM / Jukka Paavola.

The Way to a Life of Values – Aleksanteri Ahola-Valo

How does a person become human? How to maintain one’s humanity and the ability to function even under exceptional conditions?

Aleksanteri Ahola-Valo: Ali’s coat of arms, 1946, gouache. Valola Foundation. Photo: Jouni Kiiskinen

Hints for answers to these questions can be found in the life of artist and Doctor in Education (h.c.) Aleksanteri Ahola-Valo (1900 –1997) and his thousands of works and acts of art. Ahola-Valo had  a rich and varied life of which many tales can be told. This exhibition outlines a picture of his world view and educational thinking.

The works by Akseli Gallen-Kallela in the exhibition enter into a dialogue of wonderment with the human condition. Aleksanteri Ahola-Valo met Akseli Gallen-Kallela at Tarvaspää in 1930.


Towards light

Aleksanteri Ahola-Valo (1900 –1997) spent his childhood in the Lake Ladoga region of Karelia and in Ingria in the vicinity of St Petersburg. An  outsider in the visual arts in Finland, he  spent most of his life beyond the present borders of Finland in Russia, later Soviet Russia and the Soviet Union, and finally in Sweden. As new borders were drawn and Ahola-Valo changed his place of residence, he was viewed with suspicion and even imprisoned. He had to flee persecution and conditions that became impossible for him. Art followed him everywhere. It was part of his lifestyle, helping him establish contacts and support himself.

Disturbing experiences on the eve of the Russian Revolution and the ever-present threat of violence led the young ‘Ali’ to choose for his life a direction leading towards a good, or at least better, future. He hoped that he could provide this for all other people through his art and inventions.

Ali’s own experiences of a school managed voluntarily by its pupils, a communal tour de force of children, and the declining lifestyles of adults led him, already in his early childhood, to seek the keys to change in enlightenment and education. He went on to develop  the ‘tools for guiding activities’ that ultimately became an integral aspect of Ahola-Valo’s personal method and science, which he called AE-evohomology.

Aleksanteri Ahola-Valo wearing summer suit, photomanipulation 1921. Valola Foundation. Photo: Jouni Kiiskinen

Aleksanteri Ahola-Valo’s personal path to a life of values staked out  by art is a sign of the power of education and creativity, and at the same time of the incompleteness of the project of achieving humanity.


The exhibition is curated by Jouni Kiiskinen, Doctor of Fine Arts, whose published doctoral dissertation on Aleksanteri Ahola-Valo’s method and ethics of self-education, Visuaalinen tie arvoelämään. Aleksanteri Ahola-Valon itsekasvatuksen menetelmä ja etiikka (2011), discusses AE-evohomology.



In association with: Valola Foundation, Elpo ry

Work of curator Jouni Kiiskinen has been supported by The Finnish Cultural Foundation.


Gallen-Kallela in Kenya

Art Exhibit at Nairobi National Museum

22.11. – 15.12.2017suomifinland100-tunnus_sininen_rgb

Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865-1931), one of Finland’s most renowned artists, traveled to Kenya with his family in 1909. They lived on the outskirts of Nairobi, painting, travelling, and collecting both natural and ethnographic artefacts. Now, over 100 years later, his works are to be exhibited for the first time in the country they were created in.

In celebration of the 2017 centenary of Finnish independence, the Gallen-Kallela Museum together with the Embassy of Finland in Nairobi are producing the “GALLEN-KALLELA IN KENYA” exhibition on Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s trip and the art it inspired at the Nairobi National Museum. The exhibition is based on reproduced materials, paintings and photographs.

The exhibition will also be the launch event of the the Gallen-Kallelan Museum’s Taideavain (Art Key) web application. The interactive application will follow in the footsteps of the Gallen-Kallela family on a map of Kenya, and offer context on the exhibited works.

Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Hwandoni Hills, 1910. Öljymaalaus. Gallen-Kallelan Museo. Kuva: GKM / Jukka Paavola

Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Hwandoni Hills, 1910. Oil painting. The Gallen-Kallela Museum. Photo: GKM / Jukka Paavola

Nairobi National Museum, Cultural Dynamism Gallery
22.11 – 15.12.2017 / 08.30am – 5.30pm Daily



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