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Authors:Susanna Pettersson:
Publication title:National Museums in Finland
Conference:Building National Museums in Europe 1750–2010. Conference proceedings from EuNaMus; European National Museums: Identity Politics; the Uses of the Past and the European Citizen; Bologna 28-30 April 2011. EuNaMus Report No. 1
Publication type: Abstract and Fulltext
Issue:064
Article No.:013
Abstract:This report analyses the growth of the Finnish museum scene from its early beginnings in the nineteenth century through to the big national museum organizations: the Finnish National Gallery; the National Museum of Finland and the Natural History Museum. The timeframe is particularly interesting due to the historical setting: when the first initiatives to form national collections saw the light of day; the country was in the midst of political turmoil. Separation from Sweden had taken place in 1809; and Finland; as a Grand Duchy of Russia; was searching for a new identity. The nation-building process; driven by Swedish-speaking academics; artists and politicians; was visible in all sectors; from the fine arts to literature; history writing and science. Towards the end of the nineteenth century; language-policy issues divided the field into two separate camps. Favouring either the Finnish or Swedish language became a political matter.

When the country gained independence from Russia in 1917; an express need for national institutions such as national museums became evident. Nationalism reached a peak and was seen and heard in architecture; the fine arts; literature and music. The civil war in 1918 and; later on; the World War did not close the museums; but affected their work on a very practical level. The cold-war period was partly mirrored in the politically appropriate exhibition programmes. The nation’s geopolitical struggle only became the subject of exhibitions later on; when it was possible to approach their contents from an analytical distance.

The development of the three national museums has depended on Finnish cultural policy and on politics in general. The nineteenth century was an era of vigorous national development and the creation of institutions; the formation of collections and collecting practices. The twentieth century featured the growth of the museum profession and expertise; and the museums’ relationship with their audiences changed. Political changes; the industrialization of the country; a relatively rapid shift from an agricultural society to a service and IT society have affected museums’ activities; too. Internationally important trends and issues have been reflected in the exhibition programmes.

One of the central observations is that the crucial factor was the professional expertise used in running the museums; building up the collections and putting them on display. Thus; the success of the big national museums depends not only on the contents of the collections; exhibitions and various programmes targeted on different audiences; but on their human resources.

Language:English
Year:2011
No. of pages:34
Pages:261-288
Series:Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings
ISSN (print):1650-3686
ISSN (online):1650-3740
File:http://www.ep.liu.se/ecp/064/013/ecp64013.pdf
Available:2011-09-30
Publisher:Linköping University Electronic Press; Linköpings universitet

REFERENCE TO THIS PAGE
Susanna Pettersson (2011). National Museums in Finland, Building National Museums in Europe 1750–2010. Conference proceedings from EuNaMus; European National Museums: Identity Politics; the Uses of the Past and the European Citizen; Bologna 28-30 April 2011. EuNaMus Report No. 1 http://www.ep.liu.se/ecp_article/index.en.aspx?issue=064;article=013 (accessed 11/27/2014)