Pirkko Lepistö: Skipping Rope in Summer (1972). Finnish National Gallery / Ateneum Art Museum. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Jenni Nurminen

We will reopen in April to explore the questions of our time

Our new collection exhibition A Question of Time will open on 14 April 2023. Alongside the beloved classics, the exhibition will feature rarely exhibited works, as well as modern and contemporary art.

The opening of our new collection exhibition A Question of Time will coincide with the reopening of the Ateneum Art museum on 14 April 2023. The museum closed in March 2022 due to a ventilation renovation. A Question of Time will replace the previous collection exhibition, Stories of Finnish Art, which opened in 2016.

“Our previous collection exhibition was spectacular and diverse. However, in a rapidly changing world, we wanted to approach our collection from a different angle,” says the director of the Ateneum, Marja Sakari.

New collection exhibition aims to challenge the way in which the collection of the Finnish National Gallery has traditionally been viewed. Instead of the traditional, chronological approach, A Question of Time features four themes: The Age of Nature, Images of a People, Modern Life and Art and Power, that run through different eras and draw on today’s burning issues.

There are questions ringing in the background. How has the Ateneum collection been built up over the years? How can it be a collection for everyone?

“When we engage with art, we are not alone with our big questions and feelings”, says Sakari. “To understand our part in this time, we must take a look through the ages: past, present, and future. The Ateneum art collection, which includes works dating back as far as the 18th century, offers a unique opportunity to do just this. I hope that the exhibition will bring people together and encourage a joint discussion.”

One exhibition, four themes

A Question of Time and its four themes – The Age of Nature, Images of a People, Modern Life, and Art and Power – open the Finnish National Gallery’s art collection to reinterpretation. Reinterpretations are encouraged by new kinds of juxtapositions in the presentation.

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?” ask the curators of the theme, the doctoral researcher Mariia Niskavaara and the curator of exhibitions Anne-Maria Pennonen. “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. How do you look at art in a time when nature is under threat from human action?”

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”, says the project leader of the collection exhibition and the curator of the theme, the chief curator of collections, Timo Huusko.

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”, says the senior researcher and curator of collections, Anu Utriainen.

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. The field of art manifests itself as a network in which money, power, relationships, and chance have an influence on what images are included in the Finnish National Gallery’s collection for us to see”, says the curator of collections Hanne Selkokari.

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. These include, for example, Erkki Heikkilä’s Floating Log Bundles (1970), Unto Pusa’s Forest (1957), and Reidar Särestöniemi’s Redbearded Moor (1970), Pirkko Lepistö’s Skipping Rope in Summer (1972) and Essi Renvall’s Head of a Boy (1963). The exhibition will also feature contemporary art from the Finnish National Gallery’s collection, such as Toni R. Toivonen’s Giving Birth and Dying Still (2016).

Guided tour for a group – for example, a group of friends

You can enhance your visit to the exhibition by booking your own guided tour. Time is reserved for discussion during the guided tour. More information

Pre-booking tickets to the Ateneum at Lippu.fi

If you want to guarantee your admission to the Ateneum at a specific time, we recommend pre-booking your ticket. Tickets are also sold at the door. Pre-bookable tickets will go on sale on Tuesday 14 March. The Lippu.fi service and booking fee will be added to the ticket price. Read more about pre-booking tickets