National Treasures

Art and stories from 100-year-old Finland

The Bank of Finland’s art collection forms a unique and comprehensive work of art, in itself. This does not mean uniformity of style or acquisitions, rather it means works that tell unexpected details about Finnish art, beginning in the period of Finnish autonomy under the Russian Empire up to today.

From monumental installations, such as Juho Rissanen’s stained glass windows, to Rut Bryk’s ceramic relief, these works illustrate the Bank’s aim of updating the working environment to reflect the times through the introduction of prominent art works of their day. The significant art commissions of the post-war years were from female artists such as Bryk, Dora Jung and Eva Anttila. It is now high time that their textile and ceramic works were placed where they deserve to be, at the forefront of visual art history. These are not industrial designs, rather they are distinct, pioneering art works in the same way as the works of artists such as Sam Vanni or Juhana Blomstedt.

In 1876, the Bank of Finland launched Finland’s first international architectural competition in order to find an architect with a vision for the Bank’s new Head Office. The winning design was submitted by Ludwig Bohnstedt, and drew on a fluid combination of several styles, giving rise to a “free-form Romanesque-Renaissance” building. Bohnstedt’s eclectic plans have stood the test of time and met the Bank’s changing requirements, as well as surviving alterations forced on it by the scars of the Second World War, to say nothing of the large extension that was later added to it. Perhaps it is the building’s multi-sourced roots that provide even the newest pieces in the Bank’s broadly-based art collection with a secure position in this historic setting.

Markku Valkonen
Curator of the exhibition

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