Finnish Art Society’s collections in the Ateneum building, gallery of Finnish art, 1890s. Photo: Finnish National Gallery.

Editorial: Go Go Collection Research!

Susanna Pettersson, PhD, Museum Director, Ateneum Art Museum


September 25, 2015


My lifelong passion has been collection studies and museum history. I began exploring this topic in the late-1980s when it was not very high on the agenda. Later on, collections and museum history have earned their place within the academic discourse – and for a good reason.

Collections form the absolute core of the Finnish National Gallery and it goes without saying that the collection is our shared passion today. It consists of more than 36,000 works of art and a priceless archive of letters, documents, photographs and other material that completes the story of art. This rich collection is a wonderful combination of artworks and documents relating to the creative process – correspondence revealing thoughts and ideas, photos from decades that have been long gone and much more.

Our exhibition projects, whether they are in-house productions, joint ventures or tailor-made productions, are all based on extensive research – from studies related to a single work, to complete analysis of a whole artistic oeuvre or phenomenon within visual arts. The well-spent hours in the library reading books and looking at the archive material, seeking new data, making links and discovering things, can be described as a seductive and very addictive part of our work – not to mention the close study of the artworks.

The history of collection and its sub-collections are of interest as well. Take Siv and Rolando Pieraccini’s substantial donation, for example: the largest collection of 20th-century Italian graphic art outside Italy, it consists of more than 1,300 works by 50 artists and opens a huge possibility for new initiatives that may lead to a number of exhibitions.

Our aim at the Finnish National Gallery is to strengthen and develop the co-operation between museums and universities, as well as with individual scholars. We are organising international research conferences around the themes that are of importance for us. And we are looking forward to welcoming new researchers to dive into our collections and archives – and get to know our in-house experts who cover the huge range of art history, from the Renaissance to contemporary art and culture.

The international community is all about networks and contacts. Therefore, we strongly believe in sharing what we have with others.

I wish that you enjoy reading FNG Research.

Featured image: The Finnish Art Society’s collections in the Ateneum gallery of Finnish art, 1890s. Photographer unknown. Photo: Finnish National Gallery