Pre- and afterparty

Preparations for and assignments after the museum visit

Dear teacher!

Thank you for planning a visit to Ateneum Art Museum or for having made one already. This package contains material for discussion and suggestions for study assignments linked to the museum visit and the thematic tours of the exhibition. The Museum Public Programmes Team welcomes all new ideas regarding work of this kind.

Some of the assignments have a defined target group, age groups for which the assignments are best suited. Depending on the materials and time needed for their completion, assignments are divided into fast and ‘easy’ assignments and longer ones that require advance preparation. References to the duration of an assignment should be taken only as a suggestion.


A. Preparty: Preparing for the visit
Topics for discussion and hints

B. Afterparty: After the museum visit, working in class
General assignments

Follow-up assignments linked to the thematic tours

A. Preparty: Preparing for the visit

This section contains a few general questions and warm-up exercises designed specifically to be completed in school prior to the museum visit.

The teacher can visit the exhibition beforehand. The Finnish National Gallery offers teachers an inexpensive annual pass (€28) that gives admission to not only Ateneum Art Museum but also the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma and Sinebrychoff Art Museum. We also recommend buying the national Museum Card to anyone who frequents museums often. Schools can also find useful the Ateneum Taidepakka picture cards and idea booklet. Taidepakka (60 cards with pictures of artworks and a booklet with ideas) is also sold in the online museum store.

Topics for discussion and hints

What is a museum?
Discuss conceptions of the museum, its purpose and different types of museums. What would be an interesting museum?

What is art?

What is Ateneum Art Museum? What is the Finnish National Gallery?
(this can be also done as an information searching exercise)

How to behave in a museum.

Learn to know the pictures.
In class, study pictures in the online image portfolio of the thematic tour you have booked, and discuss the pictures. You will see at least some of them ‘live’ during the tour.

School and pictures.
Discussion: What pictures are there in or near your school? Are there any works of art in the classroom, in the foyer, somewhere close to the school?

What stays with you? Audio guide assignment.
Recommended for grade/level 3 and up. The Ateneum website has audio guides on the collection exhibition in Finnish, Swedish, English, Russian as well as in Easy Finnish, Finnish sign language, and Finnish audio description. Begin by studying the picture of the work of art included in the audio guide and then discuss it: what is happening in the picture, what details there are, what you think is the mood or the theme. Next, listen to the audio presentation, and discuss afterwards if you see something more in the picture now. This assignment can also be used in language teaching as a listening comprehension exercise.

B. Afterparty: After the museum visit, working in class

General assignments

Searching works of art online.
After the museum visit you can revisit the picture portfolio of the audio tour at the website. Are there works in the portfolio that you saw in the exhibition? Is there some work that you remember particularly well? All the works are in the collections of Ateneum Art Museum. If some work seems particularly interesting, you can find a picture and more information about it by using the search function at . You can perform searches by the artist’s name or the work’s title. Google Art Project also has works from Ateneum for closer study. Find the information and share the result with the rest of the group.
Target group: Starting in grade/level 4, art and language lessons.

Story crafting.
From the picture portfolio on the guided tours web page, select a work that is now more familiar than before the visit to Ateneum. Focus on it now in school. Begin by examining the picture in silence and then move on to story crafting. Students take turns (preferably in free order) telling a story about the picture by each one adding one sentence at a time. One student serves as secretary, writing down the story on paper or a computer as it unfolds. When all agree that the story is finished, it is read aloud. Conclude with a discussion on whether you now see the picture with different eyes.
Variation: Story crafting can also be done by having everyone study the picture at leisure and then write a short poem or aphorism about it. A story is then crafted using the method described above. After the collectively created story is read aloud, everyone reads their own poem or aphorism. Conclude with a discussion.
Target group: All grades/levels, art and language lessons.

Let’s improvise art! Body exercise, individual and group work.
15–75 minutes, can be extended with an extra assignment.
You will need: AV equipment or prints for studying pictures of artworks. Downloadable and printable images.
Assignment: Discuss to recall your experiences in the museum, and revisit the works that the group saw on the tour. Together with the students, the teacher chooses works that students then recreate by assuming the same positions as the figures in the work, paying attention to poses, distances and facial expressions. The assignment can be extended by improvising scenes of “before and after” and adding sound and movement to the poses. Discuss in the group what might have happened before and after the scene depicted in the work.
Pictorial follow-up assignment: Students take pictures of the recreated artworks (see above) using cameras or tablets, and process the pictures with image processing software. The pictures can be turned black-and-white, made to look like a painting or a vintage photograph. You can also use props in this assignment and take the pictures in a mock-up studio set up in the art class, for example. The assignment can also be done without photographs by focusing on improvisation instead.
Target group: All grades/levels, art lessons.

Listening to make a picture. Drawing assignment, individual work.
15–75 minutes
You will need: Drawing materials, paper. Downloadable and printable images.
Assignment: This is a ‘dictated picture’. The teacher selects a work of art and describes it for the students slowly and with as much detail as possible. As they listen, the students draw on paper their idea of how the work looks. End by examining and comparing the drawings; the teacher also shows the picture of the original work to the group. The assignment can be extended by having students develop their drawing further by painting or some other way.
Preparations: The teacher prints out a picture from the Ateneum guided tour materials. It is important that the students have not examined the work previously on a guided tour so as to minimise their memories or recollections of the work.
Target group: All grades/levels, art lessons.

Stream of consciousness.
1–3 lessons.
You will need: A4 colour prints, A3 watercolour paper, drawing implements and/or watercolours, painting materials, paper glue. Downloadable and printable images.
Assignment: Each student in a group is given a printed picture of a work in the Ateneum collections. Working as a group, they search information about the work – who made it, what is its title and subject matter, what things may have affected its making, and so on. The goal is to have students engage in artistic work based on the picture: either by drawing or painting a subject of their own, and integrating the original artwork into their personal artistic work.
Preparations: The teacher prints out pictures of different artworks from the guided tour portfolio. The assignment can also be based on a single artwork, in which case the teacher prints out the same picture for all.
Procedure: The students cut out some part of the picture that interests them: a shape, a colour area, a detail. After cutting the fragment into the desired shape, they place it on an A3 sheet of watercolour paper.
The cut-out can be glued on the paper now or after the drawing or painting is finished. Students decide for themselves where to place the cut-out and how they want to develop it. The cut-out fragment can remain visible in the final work as it is or it can be modified (by, for example, painting over parts of it).
After the pictures are finished, discuss them to allow students to verbalise the choices they made during the process.
Target group: All grades/levels.

Text genre.
Take your time to study a picture. Then choose a role: journalist, copywriter, poet, political speech writer, obituarist, songwriter, love letter writer, diarist. Assume the role and write about the picture. Feel free to use the register and jargon of the genre of your choosing. Conclusion: A volunteer reads their piece to the group (or everyone can read theirs).
Target group: Language and art lessons, grades/levels (3–6) 7–9.

From picture to comic strip/cartoon.
In this lesson a picture is transformed into a live comic strip, a moving tableaux acted out by the group. What has happened before the situation in the picture? What happens in it? What will happen next? Each group gets a few minutes to invent a plot and how to present it, and then they act out the comic strip for the rest of the class.
Variation, art lesson: The picture is printed on paper and distributed to the students. The task is to create a three-frame comic strip in which the art print is the centre frame. Students can choose any technique they want. If needed, dialogue can be added to the strip. The finished strips can be presented in a small exhibition.
Variation: Picture into sounds. The printed picture is used as a starting point to create a soundscape. The sounds can be made using any objects at hand or voices: mumbling, rubbing some material, humming. Encourage students to use their body and the space in inventive ways! Each group rehearses their soundscape alone so that the others cannot hear. Then the rest of the class listens to the soundscape with their eyes closed. Conclude with a discussion.
Target group: All grades/levels, art and language lessons. In small groups.

Personal exhibition.
Students discuss their experiences in the museum. How were the artworks placed in the galleries? What information about them was provided? In what ways? Then they create an exhibition of their own of pictures they have made or taken, or use art cards or other images. The exhibition is then presented to other groups.
Target group: All age groups, art and language lessons.

What happens next? A visual collage assignment, in small groups.
2–4 lessons.
You will need: A4 colour prints, A3 watercolour paper, drawing implements and/or watercolours, painting materials, scissors, paper glue. Downloadable and printable images.
Assignment: Working in small groups, students create a follow-up picture to a work of art they have chosen collectively. They discuss what might happen next to the figures in the picture and how they might show this visually. The chosen picture serves both as the starting point and as material for the assignment: the group cuts out a figure from the picture – a person, an animal, a fragment of a landscape view – and create a new context for it by drawing or painting. This introduces the concept of collage – it is a work of art consisting of different parts or materials.
Example: Together with the teacher, the students decide to take as their starting point Hugo Simberg’s The Wounded Angel. They cut out the figures in the painting – the boys and the angel – and invent a new setting into which the paper figures are placed. The teacher can assist students by asking questions: What is happening in this picture? What might happen next? Where are the boys taking the angel? What will happen then?
Together with the students, the teacher selects one work they saw in the museum, and discuss it in greater detail in class. A work that was not included in the guided tour can also be used. The assignment is carried out in groups of about three students, and the teacher prints the selected work in A4 size for each group.
Procedure: Working as a group, students create a new picture to which the fragment(s) of the printout is/are joined. The finished works can also be compared with each other when all groups have had the same original image. The results are probably very different, but they all share the same starting point, the image from which the cut-out were made. For younger students, working with ‘paper dolls’ can also be used as a starting point for play or storytelling.
Target group: All grades/levels.

Connecting threads.
This assignment involves information search and a mind-map type of visual or verbal presentation, made in small groups.
Duration: 2–4 lessons.
You will need: Drawing and writing implements, A3 cardboard/paper or sticky notes, prints of artwork (A5). Downloadable and printable images.
Background: The creation of every work of art involves all sorts of reasons and factors: the client may have wishes regarding the subject matter, the artist may have wanted to comment on it, or to address some social issue, or even provoke the audience by employing a different style. It is common in contemporary art today for artists to react quickly to political events in their art, but artists could react in exactly the same way also in the past. Many works created decades ago may have got a mixed reception from the public at the time, although they might not shock us in the same way today.
Assignment: Students work in small groups, and each group selects one work from the Ateneum tour portfolio for closer examination. The pictures are printed out and students begin to amass ‘connecting threads’ around them: What is depicted in the work? What things may have inspired the artist to take up this particular subject and in this particular way? What has happened in the world since the completion of the work: what inventions have been made, what political events have come to pass? Can they have a bearing on the work under discussion? How did different social classes live in Finland in the old days?
Each group places the printout on a larger sheet of paper and, by drawing and writing, begins to assemble around the printout background information about the work of art. One way is to use ‘thought balloons’ in which observations are recorded verbally or visually. Coloured sticky notes or anything similar can be used just as well. The final work may resemble a mind map in which the students’ observations and insights are linked not only to the artwork but also to each other. The assignment can also be completed as a visual presentation created on a computer.
Target group: This assignment is suitable for grades/levels 5–9 and for secondary-level students. It is particularly suitable for school work after the Story of Finnish Art and That’s How It Used to Be – Or Was It? thematic tours.



Artistic selfie.
1–2 lessons.
You will need: Cameras, picture making materials.
Assignment: Examine one self-portrait in the image portfolio of the tour. How does the artist want to portray him/herself? What does the picture tell you? Take a selfie or paint a picture of your face on paper using a mirror. Hang all selfies on a wall and discuss them.
Target group: Age recommendation: grade/level 3 and up. Art lessons.

Your natural self.
1–2 lessons.
You will need: Cameras.
Assignment: Working in pairs, have the other student take 5–10 pictures of you in some ordinary situation with no posing. Then, both of you select one picture which seems the most interesting, a picture that tells something new about you or in which you appear to be your natural self. Did both of you choose the same picture? Show the pictures to the rest of the class and tell why you picked that particular one as your favourite.
Target group: Age recommendation: grade/level 3 and up. Art and language lessons.

Picture writes a letter.
1 lesson.
Assignment: Alone, in pairs, or in a group. From the guided tour portfolios on the museum website, select a work that has one person in it. That person now writes a message to you: thoughts, words, a poem, a letter. What does the person write? Imagine and write in the first person. When you are finished, you can swap your picture and text with your pair. Conclude with a discussion.
Target group: Age recommendation: grade/level 3 and up. Art and language lessons.


Sampo goes wild – a modern miracle machine.
A visual or a 3D assignment, individually or in small groups.
Duration: 2–4 lessons.
You will need: For the visual task: drawing and/or painting materials. For the 3D task: modelling clay, cardboard, wooden pins, recycled objects, press clippings, etc.
Assignment: The Kalevala is a treasure house of stories: people have magic powers, they undergo metamorphoses, and Sampo, a wondrous machine, spits out up salt, grain and money from its bowels. Throughout history, money has been the most important thing for humanity; so why does the magical machine in The Kalevala also produce grain and salt? Who built the Sampo? What other descriptive names does it have?
The idea is for students to invent modern-day Sampos, machines that can manufacture something necessary and desirable. On the other hand, perhaps the contemporary Sampo is a useless device that only makes disposable things which soon become useless? What kind of Sampo would be useful in a desert? Or during a city holiday? Brainstorm together and create mock-ups of the miracle machine by drawing or constructing a 3D model.
Target group: Grades/level 4–9 and secondary-level students.

Campaign poster.
1–2 lessons.
You will need: Internet connection, picture making materials.
Assignment: Study a picture of Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s painting Kullervo Cursing from the Kalevala tour portfolio on the Ateneum website. The mood in the painting is very intense. Kullervo refuses to accept the injustice done to him. His raised fist is a visual sign familiar from demonstrations, for example. Demonstrators underline their message and draw attention to it by pumping their fists in the air.
Consider recent events and issues that you think are important. Would you like to take a stand for or against some issue? Is there some injustice that makes you angry? Consider also the question: can hate be necessary? What makes you feel angry? What wider, political repercussions can hate have? Does Kullervo share some characteristics with modern terrorists?
Select a Kalevala-themed work from the Ateneum website and borrow its style, motifs, palette and vocabulary. Create a campaign poster on an topical issue that you feel is important. Add also text to the picture, such as a slogan promoting your cause.
Target group: Grades/level 7–9 and secondary-level students, art lessons.

Story as tattoo.
1–2 lessons.
You will need: Materials for picture making, internet connection.
Assignment: Design (draw, paint, etc.) a tattoo for yourself that is based on some event or character or mythic story in The Kalevala. What do you want to say with your picture? Choose a subject that you feel is important to you personally. Think where you would like it to be tattooed.
Target group: Grades/level 7–9 and secondary-level students, art lessons.

Names of Kalevala and myths in contemporary Finland.
1–2 lessons. Group assignment.
Assignment: Traces of The Kalevala and mythic stories can be seen today in contemporary names. Many Finnish individuals, insurance companies, banks, city districts, streets and products are named after some character or thing from The Kalevala or some other mythology.
1. Discuss to find out familiar names of people, places, companies or products that you know come from The Kalevala or some other myth.
2. Design a product for the international market that takes its marketing and advertising motifs from The Kalevala or some other myth. Describe the product, give it a name that refers to The Kalevala or other myth, and create an advertisement for the product where you make use of imageries from The Kalevala (or other myths).
Target group: Grades/level 7–9 and secondary-level students, art and language lessons.

My power animal.
1–2 lessons.
Assignment: Examine Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s painting Lemminkäinen’s Mother at the Ateneum website. It contains a swan gliding silently on black waters. The swan of Tuonela (=the underworld) is one of the mythical animals in The Kalevala. Animals occupy an important place in many myths, beliefs and stories around the world. The swan is a bird you can come across in stories from the antiquity, as when Zeus, king of the gods, approached Leda in the guise of a swan. The swan is commonly associated with beauty and purity. Many meanings can be attached to animals, and an animal can be depicted as a dangerous beast or a faithful companion. Animals are excellent symbols, and through the description of an animal it is possible also to describe human emotions and character. Sometimes a person in a story can even change into an animal.
Choose an animal that you think symbolises you in some way. Make a silhouette of the animal that resembles you. In designing the silhouette, think about what the animal is like and which of its characteristics are important as metaphors of yourself. Find out about common beliefs, myths and/or stories associated with the animal. At the end, the silhouettes are gathered together. Can you identify school mates on the basis of their silhouette? Discuss the relationships between the animal figures.
Target group: Grades/level 7–9 and secondary-level students, art and language lessons.


If I were a landscape.
1–2 lessons.
You will need: Writing and picture making materials.
Assignment: Recall the landscapes you saw in the exhibition – views of nature or of the built environment. If you need, study the thematic portfolio to refresh your memory. If you were a landscape, what would it be like? Describe it verbally or paint it.
Target group: All age groups. Art and language lessons.