Collection: A Question of Time

Our collection exhibition A Question of Time reflects on the major questions of our time through art. The exhibition also offers fresh perspectives into Finland’s oldest and most extensive art collection and how it was built.

  • Permanent exhibition
1st floor, 2nd floor
Tickets: with a museum ticket

Photo of a painting Redbearded Moor by artist Reidar Särestöniemi.
Reidar Särestöniemi: Redbearded Moor (1970). Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Pakarinen.

Involved in the public debate

The exhibition entitled A Question of Time contributes to the public debate of our century through four themes: The Age of Nature, Images of a People, Modern Life and Art and Power.

Alongside the iconic, beloved classics of the Finnish artistic canon, the new exhibition also features more rarely seen works.

The exhibition is curated by Timo Huusko, Chief Curator; Marja Sakari, Museum Director; Mariia Niskavaara, doctoral researcher; Anne-Maria Pennonen, Curator; Anu Utriainen Senior Researcher and Curator; and Hanne Selkokari, Curator.

Gallery texts

You can read the gallery texts on your own device. You may also listen to the texts with a screen reader.

Read the texts

Four topical themes

The Age of Nature asks: how is nature changing?

“Are we the masters of nature, who have the power to use other species as resources in our own lives? Or are we part of a delicate fabric of species, upon which our own lives rest? In a time when our environment is threatened by a climate catastrophe and mass extinction, we must turn to our national art treasures and ask new questions.

Theme’s artworks in an online gallery

Images of a People asks: how is Finnishness portrayed?

Many of the most famous works of the Ateneum Art Museum are associated with the spread of the 19th-century nationalistic view of Finland. The theme deals with the building of the Finnish national identity in the visual arts, and asks who is excluded.

Theme’s artworks in an online gallery

Modern Life asks: how does it feel to live in our modern time?

Throughout the 20th century, artists have depicted the conflicting emotions brought about by urbanisation and technological development. The works deal with subjects ranging from a belief in progress to anxiety, utopias and dystopias, the rhythm and joys of the city, and on the other hand, outsiderness and alienation.

Theme’s artworks in an online gallery

Art and Power asks: who holds the power in art?

This theme highlights passionate lovers and preservers of art, and wielders of power, that is, collectors, donors and museum directors, who have influenced the formation of the Ateneum art collection.

Theme’s artworks in an online gallery

In addition to the beloved and familiar classics, the collection exhibition will include works that have rarely or never been seen in the Ateneum exhibition galleries. A Question of Time will remain open for several years with regular updates over time.

Changing displays of works

Paper-based works are sensitive to light, which is why, every three months, some of the exhibited works, including watercolours, drawings and prints, are replaced with new ones.

As part of the Finnish National Gallery, the Ateneum Art Museum has a statutory obligation to lend works of art in its holdings to other museums in Finland and abroad. Some works may be temporarily removed from display, and in this case, new works from our collections will be brought in to replace them.

Dive deep into the art by listening 

The Ateneum Guide offers audio descriptions to enrich the exhibition experience of A Question of Time. The audio guide works with your phone’s internet browser. It is easy to use the audio guide: scan the QR code or use the work number given on the exhibit label for direct access to the related audio description. In the main view of the audio guide, you can see all the audio-described works in the exhibition. 

Open the audio guide


Video: The Age of Nature

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Ateneum Art Museum´s director Marja Sakari interviews Mariia Niskavaara, the other curator of the Age of Nature theme.

A guided tour for your group

Finnish National Gallery sales
tel. +358 294 500 500 (Mon–Fri 10:00–14:00)

Book the guided tour via online form

A Question of Time Collection exhibition tour for adults

My Ateneum tour for schoolchildren

Book your guided tour no later than two weeks before the desired date.

Guided Tour: A Question of Time Collection exhibition

A picture of Pigs and Magpies

This guided tour, led by an Ateneum guide, introduces you to the collection exhibition A Question of Time. The exhibition offers a fresh look at Finland’s oldest and most extensive art collection and its formation. The exhibition and its themes, The Age of Nature, Images of a People, Modern Life, and Art and Power, contribute to the debate on current issues. Alongside the familiar classics, the exhibition also features less frequently displayed works. 


Book a guided tour

Tour languages: Finnish/simple Finnish, Swedish, English and Russian 

Price: €115/group + museum entrance fees 

Group size: 1 to 20 people 

Duration: 50 minutes 

My Ateneum – a guided tour of the collection exhibition for schoolchildren

In the photo, young Tove Jansson stands with her hands on her hips.

What is “Your Ateneum” like? What do you find interesting? What doesn’t interest you that much? Do you feel at home or does the place feel totally strange? 

This guided tour offers a glimpse into the history of the museum and an introduction to the exhibition A Question of Time. We also encourage participants to discuss art and offer their interpretations. Art often deals with being human and evokes emotions, so art experiences provide a natural opportunity to practise emotional and interpersonal skills. 

It is important to us that children and young people feel welcome and can actively participate. The methods of guidance and participation vary by age group. 


Fill the booking form

Tour languages: Finnish, Swedish, English and Russian 

Price: €70  

Group size: max. 25 students 

Duration: 50 minutes 

The Flow of Time – Ateneum art and history

The Flow of Time is an interactive timeline that creates points of commonality between Ateneum art, the history of the building and events in Finnish and world history. Altogether more than 200 pieces from the Ateneum collection, comprising tens of thousands of artworks, are presented in the timeline. Most of them are also on display in the Question of Time exhibition. The period covered in the timeline is from the 1700s to the 1990s.

Exhibition catalogue

Each of the essays in this richly illustrated volume examines the present moment in the light of one of the main themes of the exhibition.

Drawing on materials in the archive collections of the Finnish National Gallery, From Artist Letters to the History of the Art Collection focuses on the backgrounds of the artworks and the collection.

Buy the catalogue online

The cover of the catalogue

Artworks at the exhibition