Anitra Lucander: Kuninkaitten kumarrus (1955).
Anitra Lucander: Kuninkaitten kumarrus (1955). Kansallisgalleria / Ateneumin taidemuseo, Ateneumin ystävien kokoelma. Kuva: Kansallisgalleria.

The Friends of the Ateneum 100 years – a celebratory exhibition in the autumn of 2019

The Friends of the Ateneum, which is Finland’s oldest and largest museum friends association, was founded in 1919 to support the Ateneum Art Museum. In honour of the association’s centenary, the Ateneum will, from 15 August to 6 October 2019, host the exhibition One Hundred Years of Friendship, which will present works of art donated and funded by the association. The Friends of the Ateneum also have a centenary fund-raising campaign under way, which will culminate at the end of 2019, when Marcus Collin’s work Woman in Black (1918) will be donated to the collection.

One Hundred Years of Friendship to present the history of donations

“The Friends of the Ateneum is an important asset for the Ateneum Art Museum. The members of the association act as intermediaries between the museum and various audiences. During the one hundred years of its history, the Friends of the Ateneum have also helped and supported the museum in many concrete ways. The work of art for which the centenary fund-raising campaign is organised is a unique and sought-after addition to our collection”, says the director of the Ateneum Art Museum, Marja Sakari.

To open in August 2019, One Hundred Years of Friendship will, after a long hiatus, present works from the Friends of the Ateneum collection of donations. The works selected for the exhibition play an important role in the collections of both the Ateneum and the Sinebrychoff Art Museum, which also include pre-19th-century works from outside Finland. The exhibition will show, from different perspectives, how the collection has been formed, and how art has been acquired and sourced. The exhibition will also describe the background and provenance of the works.

The exhibition, to be staged in one exhibition gallery, will show works in thematic pairs that address, for example: religious topics (Jusepe de Ribera and Anitra Lucander); the depiction of light (Alexander Lauréus and Sulho Sipilä); or the portraiture of women (Hugo Simberg and Marcus Collin). The exhibition will be curated by Hanne Selkokari, curator at the Ateneum Art Museum. The exhibition Silent Beauty – Nordic and East-Asian Interaction will be shown concurrently on the third floor of the Ateneum (from 14 June to 6 October 2019).

A Marcus Collin to be acquired for the Ateneum collection through a fundraising campaign

The newest donated addition to the Friends of the Ateneum collection, Marcus Collin’s work Woman in Black (1918), will be handed over at the end of the centenary year. The Friends of the Ateneum collection is part of the Ateneum Art Museum collection. The work is currently on display in the Ateneum’s ticket sales hall, and it will be conserved and framed in connection with the donation. Anyone can contribute towards the acquisition of the work by making a donation to the fund-raising campaign, either on the Friends of the Ateneum website or at the Ateneum Art Museum. The centenary year will culminate in the donation of the work and the centenary celebration of the Friends of the Ateneum at the Ateneum on Wednesday 20 November 2019.

“The Friends of the Ateneum have almost 2,000 members. The association operates and cooperates actively and in a variety of ways with the Ateneum. Membership offers many benefits and a wonderful community built around the Ateneum. The main theme of the centenary year is Ystävyys on ilo (‘The joy of friendship’)”, says the chair of the Friends of the Ateneum, Johanna Piisi.

During the centenary year, the Friends of the Ateneum will organise a variety of events for both its members and the general public. To be held in the Ateneum Hall, the lecture series ‘The Friends of the Ateneum donations’ (Thursdays 4 April, 25 April and 2 May) will provide an in-depth look at the works and artists featured in the Friends of the Ateneum collection. Anyone can become a friend of the Ateneum; joining is possible at the Ateneum information desk or through the Finnish National Gallery webshop.

Over a century, more than 130 works and sketches donated by the Friends of the Ateneum

In 1919, the Ateneum Art Museum was 30 years old, and due to inflation, it had limited funds. A group of influential cultural figures in Helsinki were concerned, and using a circular letter, ended up founding a friends association, with the aim of supporting the prerequisites of art education at the Ateneum by acquiring and donating works of art-historical significance to the museum’s collection. Already during its founding year, the association donated the first work to the Ateneum, and over the course of a century, more than 130 works were added to the collection: 24 paintings and 2 sculptures, and 5 sketchbooks and 100 sketches by Helene Schjerfbeck.

Image: Anitra Lucander: The Adoration of the Magi (1955). Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum, Friends of Ateneum Collection. Photo: Finnish National Gallery