One Hundred years, A Thousand meanings

Fine art a key to finnish identity

On June 9th, 2017, the exhibition One Hundred Years, A Thousand Meanings, opens at the Jyväskylä Art Museum. The exhibition shows a selection of significant Finnish artwork from between the 1800’s to the 2010’s. These pieces are presented from a new perspective which is made through a variety of different interpretations. Fine art helped build Finnish identity but do we interpret those images differently today.

The exhibition content is approached from four different themes: Finns in Images, The War Within Us, Citizen Imagery, and Emotional Landscapes and Feelings. What do portraits reveal about people? How is the national imagery of bubbling rapids, dead trees, threatening clouds and national landscape interpreted today? What kinds of feelings does the artwork communicate? And do Finnish people compare their own war memories with contemporary situations of refugees and fear? The exhibition visitors are encouraged to consider these questions as they observe the artwork.

Familiar and not so familiar

This exhibition primarily features paintings but there are also sculptures and industrial art. The exhibition includes Eero Järnefelt’s From Koli Fell (1927) and Finnish Landscape (1903), Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s Wilderness Lake (1892) and The Forging of the Sampo, sketch (1893), Helene Schjerfbeck’s Silence (1907) and Rose-Cheeked Girl (1927), Aukusti Tuhka’s Kollaanjoki River (1964), Alvar Cawén’s Pietá (1927), Fanny Churberg’s Burn-Beaten Landscape in Uusimaa (1872), Pekka Halonen’s Winter Landscape (1923), Unto Pusa’s Joie-de-vivre (1955), Rafael Wardi’s Still-Life (1984) and Rut Bryk’s Stream (1987) as well as Ville Lenkker’s A Stray Man (2010–2014) and Reima Nevalainen's Cuirass (2014).

This collection of art work, from the collections of the members of the Association of Finnish Fine Arts Foundations (STSY) is here, shown together for the first time outside of Helsinki. The exhibition was produced by the Jyväskylä Art Museum in collaboration with the Association of Finnish Fine Arts Foundations .

The exhibition includes work from Alfred Kordelin Foundation, The Fortum Art Foundation, The Gösta Serlachius Fine Art Foundation, Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation, Art Foundation Merita and UPM-Kymmene Cultural Foundation.

One Hundred Years, A Thousand Meanings is produced by the Jyväskylä Art Museum in collaboration with the Finnish Art Foundation Association (STSY). The exhibition is curated by Seija Heinänen, FT, from the Jyväskylä Art Museum. The STSY member representatives collaborating in this exhibition are Director Anna-Maria Wiljanen from the UPM-Kymmene Cultural Foundation, Head Curator Nina Zilliacus from the Villa Gyllenberg Art Museum and Head Curator Laura Kuurne from the Serlachius museums.

What do we see, observe, experience

When we observe the artwork with thought and look carefully, different interpretations, feelings, memories and stories arise. This exhibition challenges the view to find their own meanings from their own perspective. In order to see without just looking, you need an open mind like that of a child.

This exhibition and website project includes critiques for the era, perspectives from researchers and the artists own interpretations.

But in addition interpretations from different age groups and different backgrounds were made before the opening of this exhibition, based on images of the artwork. Common people were invited to participate including seniors, school children, students, special needs groups, cultural guides, and immigrants. A video compilation of interpretations was recorded for this exhibition.

For the interpretation of the artwork different research methods were employed such as the discussion of image analysis though Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) which was recently brought in from the United States.

Link to Hilkka Rauhala’s blog essay on Visual Thinking Strategies:

The Jyväskylä Art Museum received funding for this community work from the Finnish National Board of Antiquities as part of their innovation projects for the years 2016 and 2017. Museum Lecturer Sirpa Turpeinen acted as project coordinator for this proposal. Dramatist, director Kari Toiviainen also worked with groups of the public and documented material for the exhibition and project use.

Link to the One Hundred Years, A Thousand Meanings blog about the exhibition and community work:

Part of the Suomi Finnish 100 programme

The name of this exhibition, One Hundred Years, A Thousand Meanings, refers to this celebratory centennial and one thousand eludes to the multiple ways a picture can be interpreted.

This exhibition was chosen as part of the National, Central Finnish and Jyväskylä’s Finnish independence programme Suomi100 (Finland100) and it is part of the Finnish Museums Association’s project, Our Common Heritage.

Internet publication

The exhibition themes and artwork were also interpreted from the perspective of different scientists and fields of science. Researchers and professors from the University of Jyväskylä wrote their own interpretations of the artwork (1-3 pieces) which will be published on line for the opening of the exhibition One Hundred Years, A Thousand Meanings.

Contributing writers:
Janne Kotiaho, Professor of Ecology, Department of Biological and environmental Sciences, University of Jyväskylä
Anssi Lindell Ph.D, Senior Lecturer, Department of Teacher Education, University of Jyväskylä
Helena Lonkila Ph.D, University Teacher, Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Jyväskylä
Risto Niemi-Pynttäri Ph.D, Senior Lecturer, Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Jyväskylä
Miikka Pyykkönen Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Jyväskylä
Annika Waenerberg Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Jyväskylä 
Anna-Maria Wiljanen Ph.D, Art Historian

Collaborators in the One hundred years, a Thousand meanings project

Collaborators in this exhibition project include experts in civil society as well as students at the University of Jyväskylä in the Cultural Environment Masters programme, Department of Music, Art and Culture Studies along with the Department of Teacher Education and the University for mature students. In addition, the City of Jyväskylä and the unit for promotion of citizenship, the Jyväskylä Adult Education Centre and the Art and Culture Companions as well as the Multicultural Center Gloria are also involved in this project.

This exhibition and community work are the subject of three research papers: two from the University of Jyväskylä and one from the HUMAK University of Applied Sciences.

More Information:

Exhibition and Internet publication: Project Coordinator Seija Heinänen, seija.heinanen(at), tel. +358 (0)500 542 082
Public Programme: Curator of Education Sirpa Turpeinen. sirpa.turpeinen(at), tel. +358 (0)50 542 0591