Paul Sinebrychoff’s study in the house museum at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Helsinki Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Sonja Hyytiäinen

Editorial: Feeling at Home at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum

Kirsi Eskelinen, PhD, Museum Director, Finnish National Gallery, Sinebrychoff Art Museum

 

27 September 2018

 

The collection of Paul and Fanny Sinebrychoff, donated to the Finnish State in 1921, and now on show on the second floor of the house museum, is the heart of the Sinebrychoff Art Museum. The display is a faithful reconstruction of their home as it was during the 1910s. It was opened in 2003 after a thorough renovation of the whole museum building.

In addition to its important collection of Old Master paintings, the house museum also includes a unique and rare collection of furniture, as well as porcelain, mirrors, clocks etc. Some of these pieces have turned out to be of a very special value as, for example, the cylinder secretaire in mahogany with its intarsia decoration, a masterpiece by the 18th-century Swedish carpenter Gustaf Adolph Ditzinger (1760–1800).

The artworks and various objects in the house museum offer us a special challenge. How to tell our audience the story of the house museum and the many stories behind the individual objects? How to give a voice to the collectors Paul and Fanny? Visitors are also interested to hear about life in the house at different historical moments.

In fact we have already taken some first steps to meet that challenge. A couple of years ago we launched a dramatised guided tour. Visitors can enjoy the life and atmosphere of the house as it would have been 100 years ago at the beginning of 20th century, while being guided through the house by ‘Fanny Sinebrychoff’ herself. In addition, some years ago we published a virtual tour of the house museum on the museum’s website, in which visitors can explore and enjoy the different rooms with all their furnishings. Paul’s study offers a chance to deepen the virtual visit even further, as you can learn more about the individual works of art hanging on the walls just by clicking on them on the web page. We also recently renewed the display of the Paul Sinebrychoff’s miniatures collection and in a new initiative we made the tiny portraits more accessible to visitors with the aid of tablets, which magnify the details and show images of the hidden parts of these objects.

Now we have just launched an audio-guided tour of the house museum which takes you through the rooms in the company of ‘Paul and Fanny’. You can enjoy this tour in the museum’s website, at home or listen to it on your mobile phone while strolling around the museum. We hope that in the future we are able to tell our audience even more fascinating stories of the people who have lived at this special home, and their beloved collection, their life.

This autumn we have just opened ‘Moved to tears: Staging emotions’ at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum. The exhibition explores the reciprocal influences of theatre and painting in expressing emotions through gestures and poses. The works of art on show date from the Baroque era to the late 19th century. The exhibition is dedicated to Fanny Sinebrychoff, who was herself a celebrated actress in the Swedish Theatre in Helsinki before she married Paul Sinebrychoff in 1883. See the interview with the curator of the exhibition, Laura Gutman in the FNG Research issue 3/2018 (https://research.fng.fi/category/issues/2018-no-3/).

In this issue of FNG Research we are happy to publish the first peer-reviewed article written for the magazine: Art Collections Born through Division ─ Kouri Collection Case Study, by Kari Tuovinen MSc. Also in this issue the Finnish National Gallery announces its third Call for Research Interns, for 2019.

Featured image: Paul Sinebrychoff’s study in the house museum at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Helsinki
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Sonja Hyytiäinen

Click here for a virtual tour of Paul’s study >>

Mario Merz, Untitled (Igloo), 1989, wax, rock, neon, glass, metal, diameter 823cm The Kouri Collection, Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Pirje Mykkänen

Peer Reviewed Article: Art Collections Born through Division ─ Kouri Collection Case Study

Kari Tuovinen, MSc [Econ], independent scholar

Many important art collections have arrived at their current state through division processes. The critic Clement Greenberg, for example, regularly made donations from his private art collection as well as selling off parts of it;[1] after his death the collection was sold to Portland Art Museum but his family kept a number of works.[2] The famous Russian collections of early French Modernism in the Hermitage and the Pushkin museums are the result of splitting up industrialist Sergei Shchukin’s private collection.[3] Such divisions are common in the corporate world. For example, when the ING Bank in the Netherlands was split into insurance and banking operations, its corporate art collection was divided between the two.[4]

The Kouri Collection at the Finnish National Gallery / the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma in Helsinki is also a prominent collection that has gone through a division process. Pentti Kouri (1949─2009) was an investment banker and Professor of Economics at the Universities of Stanford, Yale, and Helsinki. While living in New York in the late 1980s he built up a private collection of about 250 works by artists such as Donald Judd, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, Julian Schnabel, and also many less well-known artists.[5] Through a complicated process, 61 works from his collection were transferred to the ownership of the Finnish National Gallery in Helsinki.

There is much research literature on art collecting, but very little research into the processes of dividing up art collections and their outcome. In order to help bridge this gap, this article examines two questions. First, what were the phases and characteristics of dividing up Kouri’s collection, and how were the works selected? Secondly, what was the outcome of the division process, in other words, what are the differences between the original private collection and the current Kouri Collection now in the Finnish National Gallery / the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma?

[1] Wilkin, Karen, 2001. ‘Clement Greenberg: a critical eye’, in Karen Wilkin and Bruce Guenther (eds.), Clement Greenberg, A Critic’s Collection. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 25–26.

[2] After the widow’s death 12 works were auctioned, https://www.christies.com/features/The-Collection-of-Jenny-and-Clement-Greenberg-7319-1.aspx accessed 4 June 2018.

[3] http://www.artnews.com/2017/02/21/an-embarrassment-of-riches-the-shchukin-collection-at-fondation-louis-vuitton-in-paris-overflows-with-modernist-masterpieces-and-offers-dark-parallels-to-our-plutocratic-present/ accessed 1 June 2018.

[4] https://www.ing.com/ING-in-society/Art/ING-Collection.htm accessed 4 June 2018.

[5] Kouri admits that he made ‘very many mistakes’ before finding his ‘line to follow’. Interview with Kouri in Rossi, Leena-Maija, ’Taide on ainoa alue, jossa henkiset arvot ovat vielä jäljellä.’ Helsingin Sanomat, 25 May 1992.

Featured image: Mario Merz, Untitled (Igloo), 1989, wax, rock, neon, glass, metal, diameter 823cm
The Kouri Collection, Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Pirje Mykkänen. © Kuvasto 2018

Read more — Download ‘Art Collections Born through Division ─ Kouri Collection Case Study’, by Kari Tuovinen, as a PDF

Download the Full Peer Reviewed Article as a PDF >>

Reija Meriläinen, Survivor, 2017, videogame Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma Screen capture of the online artwork

Data Salvage – Preserving Software-based Artworks in the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

Maija Grönqvist, MA student, University of Helsinki

This article is published as a result of a three-month research internship at the Finnish National Gallery

How to preserve process, context, and instability? Software-based art requires a certain amount of institutional rethinking in terms of collecting and preservation. Museums, entrusted with the task of preserving and re-exhibiting their collected artworks even in the most distant future, are battling with a new set of problems related to software-based art. The underlying challenge is that the artworks – often manifested as everything but objects – are created on technologically evolving platforms. As a result, theoretical models and practical strategies linked to software-based artworks are inevitably bound to change.[1]

Preserving software-based artworks is challenging yet vital, as they not only represent the artists’ ideas and concepts, but also the technological possibilities and the complex communication landscape of our time.[2] Long before the official recognition of the digital revolution, artists were already experimenting with the novel possibilities of new media. The first wave of digital art was exhibited mainly at technology conferences or digital media festivals. Towards the end of the last century, however, new media art, the art form that used to be considered ‘peripheral to the mainstream art world’[3], became an established genre and finally a welcome addition to galleries and museums. This expansion occurred globally in the 1990s, following the unforeseen affordability and user-friendliness of projectors and personal computers.[4]

[1] Paul 2015, 87; Fino-Radin 2011, 6.

[2] LIMA 2016.

[3] Paul 2003, 7.

[4] Paul 2003, 7; London 2014, xviii; Lialina 2010, 38–39.

Featured image: Reija Meriläinen, Survivor, 2017, video game
Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Screen capture of the online artwork

Read more — Download ‘Data Salvage – Preserving Software-based Artworks in the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma’, by Maija Grönqvist, as a PDF

Download the Full Article as a PDF >>

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, The Reading Monk, 1661, oil on canvas, 82cm x 66cm The Hjalmar Linder Donation, Finnish National Gallery / Sinebrychoff Art Museum Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Yehia Eweis

Sinebrychoff Art Museum’s Rembrandt Joins International Database

Kirsi Eskelinen, PhD, Museum Director, Finnish National Gallery, Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Helsinki

The Reading Monk by Rembrandt van Rijn, which is at the Finnish National Gallery / Sinebrychoff Art Museum, has now been included in the Rembrandt Database. The Rembrandt Database is a research resource for information and documentation on paintings by Rembrandt or attributed to him. The database is maintained by RKD (Netherlands Institute for Art history) in The Hague and is supported by The Andrew F. Mellon Foundation in New York. The site contains art-historical documentation on more than 600 paintings. In addition to that, it also contains visual and textual material from the technical analysis and treatment of the paintings. Its significance as the leading portal for Rembrandt research is recognised worldwide.

As a practical outcome this marks the first step in the research project on The Reading Monk at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum. All the documentation concerning provenance research, literature and technical analysis has been carefully scanned and new information has been added. Now scholars have free access to all the data concerning The Reading Monk via the Rembrandt Database. We hope that this will also promote international research interest in the museum’s painting.

Database website: www.rembrandtdatabase.org

Featured Image: Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, The Reading Monk, 1661, oil on canvas, 82cm x 66cm
The Hjalmar Linder Donation, Finnish National Gallery / Sinebrychoff Art Museum
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Yehia Eweis

Call for Research Interns 2019

Finnish National Gallery
Call for Research Interns 2019

The Finnish National Gallery wishes to raise new interest in research topics based on its resources and collections. It also wishes to be an active and innovative partner in collaborating with the academic scene in reinforcing humanistic values and the importance of understanding the world and human culture by creating new, meaningful and relevant knowledge.

For this purpose the Finnish National Gallery has a research internship programme for art or cultural history students (preferably master’s-level) internationally to work with us as research interns.

The programme has two aims. The Finnish National Gallery wishes to enhance the study of its collections including artworks, archives, and objects. At the same time it wishes to support students who choose to write their master’s level theses on subjects based on physical collections and objects, archive material and data.

In 2019 the Finnish National Gallery is prepared to receive three research interns.

The internship period is three months with the intern under contract to the Finnish National Gallery. The salary is equivalent to the salary of university trainees.

The intern chooses in advance the material of the Finnish National Gallery collections that he/she wishes to study, and agrees on studying it during the internship period. It is desirable that the material will form part of the intern’s thesis. The intern is required, during the period of their internship, to write a text in English, based on the material and the research done at the National Gallery. The text may be published in one of the sections of the FNG Research web magazine.

Each intern will have two in-house professional tutors at the Finnish National Gallery. The tutors and the intern will meet on average weekly.

The Finnish National Gallery is not responsible for the academic supervision of the intern’s master’s thesis. The role of the National Gallery is to support the intern’s skills in collections research practices.

Are you interested? If so, please send your application by e-mail to fngr@nationalgallery.fi or by post to FNG Research, Chief curator Hanna-Leena Paloposki, Kaivokatu 2, 00100 Helsinki, Finland.

Applications can be written in English, Finnish or Swedish.

The deadline for applications is 15 November 2018 and the appointments will be announced by 14 December 2018.

The interns are appointed by the FNG Research editorial board.

For more information about the application process and programme, please click on the link below:

How to apply for the research internship programme at the Finnish National Gallery for master’s-level art and cultural history students >>

Otto Mäkilä, Summer Night, 1938, oil on canvas, 70cm x 90cm, Herman and Elisabeth Hallonblad Collection, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Antti Kuivalainen

Editorial – Stimulating Research through Collections’ Metadata

Riitta Ojanperä, PhD, Director, Collections Management, Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki

 

19 July 2018

 

Multiculturalism and opening up to the changes and challenges of today’s world are topics that are often discussed when museum professionals get together in meetings and conferences. It is about being relevant to the societies around us.

Collections are traditionally considered the core of museums and the kernel of museums’ role as providers of reliable knowledge about culture and its history. Therefore a significant interest in the histories of collections – that is for whom, in what historical period and for what reasons the collections were formed – has been shown within the museums themselves, as well as in the academic field.

Metadata is a key concept when talking about making collections and collections’ data relevant. Metadata creates patterns of knowledge that are connected with each single object in the collection. The data are gathered in museums’ databases and, ideally, shared via digital platforms, thus serving as an important primary source for academic research, as well as other interests.

The ways in which we organise, enrich and share the metadata that is formatting the knowledge do matter. This part of professional practice has the potential to reflect a museum’s and its collection’s relevance and also offers the possibility to participate in current discourses within academic research fields. Collections as sets of chosen objects are relatively static, but the metadata connected to them, and the procedures for constituting knowledge, need not be.

The Finnish National Gallery has very recently accomplished the task of migrating its collections’ data to a new database system and we are planning to share the data on a new website next year. We are also looking forward to experimenting with crowdsourcing keywords.

While doing this, we will be happy to hear about our colleagues’ experiences and to share with others what we are learning.

Wishing you all a nice summer!

Featured image: Otto Mäkilä, Summer Night, 1938, oil on canvas, 70cm x 90cm, Herman and Elisabeth Hallonblad Collection, Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum

On the Finnish National Gallery’s website the basic information given about this painting is: Otto Mäkilä, Summer Night, 1938, Keywords: kesä, maisema, heinäpelto, figuuri, yö, nainen, allegoria. In future we wish to share the keywords with you also in English: summer, landscape, hayfield, figure, night, woman, allegory.

Information about the FNG collection is also available on these data platforms:

Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Antti Kuivalainen

Nineteenth and 20thcentury plaster portraits from the Finnish National Gallery Collections displayed in the exhibition ‘I am not I – Famous and Forgotten Portraits’ at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Helsinki, in 2017 Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Riitta Ojanperä Issue No. 4/2018

Connecting Museum Collections with the Rest of the World

Interview by Gill Crabbe, FNG Research

As the Finnish National Gallery prepares to launch a new integrated website for its collections, artworks, objects and archival material, Gill Crabbe asks the key people behind the project about the implications for researchers and other users

The days when an art historian’s first port of call in accessing an art museum’s materials would be to walk through its doors and spend hours leafing through indexes, letters and artefacts, are fast disappearing. In today’s globalised, digitised world, the research community expects rapid accessibility, through interactive channels, both online and via social media. In fact one might even posit the question to the art research community, does an object exist if it is not available online? For institutions like art museums these issues present a huge challenge, simply because the vast volume of objects and related material they hold in their archives and collections means that a gargantuan effort is involved in transforming even a selected part of it into digital material.

The Finnish National Gallery’s recent release of more than 12,000 images of copyright-free artworks into the public domain as open-data has not only opened up the dissemination of its art collections internationally but also goes hand in hand with a much larger development of its entire collections management system that will see all of the collections – artworks, objects and archive collections – brought into a single database for the first time. This new updated database will feed into the FNG’s new collections online web pages to be launched next year. At present there are several ways to access various parts of the FNG collections and improving their online availability is a pivotal way to enhance research related to them.

Featured image: Artworks need metadata to support research into them. Nineteenth and 20th-century plaster portraits from the Finnish National Gallery Collections displayed in the exhibition ‘I am not I – Famous and Forgotten Portraits’ at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Helsinki, in 2017
Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Riitta Ojanperä

Read more — Download the interview as a PDF

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