Design treasures, local history, architectural gems, art in a sauna... There’s no end of places to visit in the Finnish summer. Design Stories’ editorial team picked their must-see exhibitions for summer 2022 – grab the best tips for your own summer adventures!
Aboa Vetus Ars Nova
This summer, Turku’s Aboa Vetus Ars Nova museum is filled with kaleidoscopic tapestries carried out on a computer-operated Jacquard loom. Built around geometry, fractal patterns, and vivid colors, the textile tapestries in Kustaa Saksi’s Aura exhibition reflect a unique psychedelic world with references to different cultures, botany, and mysticism. Downstairs is an archaeological museum that invites you to explore the ruins of medieval Turku.
Aboa Vetus Ars Nova, Itäinen Rantakatu 4–6, Turku
Naantali Housing Fair
The Housing Fair Finland 2022 takes place on the Luonnonmaa island in Naantali, southwest Finland. Built on rugged seaside cliffs lined with pine trees, the housing fair area Lounatuuli has been designed with a respect for the surrounding nature, vegetation, and landforms. The area has its own solar power plant and an atmospheric recreation park with a marina. The Luonnonmaa island also houses the summer residence of the President of Finland, and the idyllic center of Naantali and the home island of the Moomins are only five kilometers away.
Housing Fair Finland 2022, Lounatuuli, Naantali
Designed by Alvar and Aino Aalto and completed in 1933, the Paimio Sanatorium in southwest Finland is undoubtedly one of the country’s most significant architectural sites. You can explore the Aalto architecture and furniture as well as the everyday life of the former tuberculosis sanatorium at the Rooms of the Sanatorium exhibition. This summer, the Sanatorium also hosts exhibitions by Pertti Männistö, the owner of the world’s largest private Aalto collection, and photographer Elina Brotherus. What’s more, guests have an opportunity to spend a night in the sanatorium’s old dormitory.
Paimion Sanatorium, Alvar Aallontie 275, Paimio
• Read also: Franckly Visits: The new exciting era of Paimio Sanatorium >
Fiskars Village Art & Design Biennale
Fiskars Village Art & Design Biennale brings a good dose of art and design to the idyllic Fiskars village in southern Finland. One of the biennale’s three main exhibitions, House by an Architect, invites you to immerse yourself in contemporary wood architecture and interior design for small spaces. Built on a local meadow, the exhibition consists of seven different mini houses, each decorated individually. At night, the tiny houses can be rented for accommodation.
If headed to Fiskars, consider paying a visit to the KWUM museum’s summer exhibition Wonders of the World by designer Katriina Nuutinen. Combining glass, wood, and dried flowers, Nuutinen’s delicately beautiful artworks will invite you to stop and reflect on the emotions evoked by climate change, reminding how much we have to cherish around us.
Fiskars Village Art & Design Biennale, Kuparivasarantie 5, Fiskars
KWUM Studio Ceramics Museum and Gallery, Baklurantie 12, Fiskars
Lahti Museum of Visual Arts Malva
This spring, the Lahti Art Museum and the Lahti Poster Museum merged into a new museum of visual arts, Malva. Malva’s summer exhibition Hide and Seek by one of the most prominent Dutch designers, Maarten Baas, encourages you to play and let your imagination run free. The exhibition features new video art as well as older artworks, such as Baas’ breakthrough work Smoke, which consists of design classics made of burned, black wood.
Lahti Museum of Visual Arts Malva, Päijänteenkatu 9, Lahti
Finlayson Art Area
The urban art event Finlayson Art Area is organized for the eighth time in the old factory area of Finlayson in central Tampere. The exhibition introduces works by 15 professional artists, such as sculptures by the Young Artist of the Year 2022 Emma Jääskeläinen, paintings by Samuli Heimonen, and street art by Roni Kuulasvuo, Sebastian Schultz, and Katja Villemonteix. Admission to all exhibitions is free.
When in Tampere, you might also want to visit Vapriikki, a museum center located in a former factory on the banks of Tammerkoski Rapids. Over 10 different exhibitions are on display at the moment, with topics varying from the history of Finlayson to Finnish architect Wivi Lönn and from the Finnish Museum of Games to the Tampere Mineral Museum.
Finlayson Art Area, Finlaysoninkuja 9, Tampere
Located in Kotka, southeast Finland, Sunila’s old pulp mill and its surrounding residential area is the largest existing piece of Alvar Aalto’s architecture. The former mill manager’s residence Kantola from 1937 currently serves as an exhibition and meeting space. Kantola’s summer exhibition 2022 delves into Aino Aalto’s career as an independent designer and interior designer. The objects displayed at the exhibition are from Pertti Männistö’s Aalto collection. In the autumn, Männistö’s Aalto gems can be admired at Kunsthalle Helsinki.
Sunila’s Kantola, Kantokatu 5, Kotka
Mänttä’s Serlachius Museums – the art museum Gösta and the Gustaf museum, which combines art and history – are among the highlights of the Finnish art summer. As usual, several interesting exhibitions are on display in the museums, including raw and touching paintings by the British artist Clare Woods. The new Art Sauna, built on a lakeside next to the Gösta museum, allows you to enjoy an unforgettable sauna session surrounded by fascinating architecture as well as art and design.
Serlachius Museum Gösta, Joenniementie 47, Mänttä
Serlachius Museum Gustaf, R. Erik Serlachiuksen katu 2, Mänttä
Helsinki’s Design Museum’s summer exhibition Cambio – on Finnish Forestry examines Finnish forests and the use of timber through the eyes of the Italian design studio Formafantasma, formed by Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresini. By teaming up with the Finnish furniture brand Artek, Formafantasma investigates the interconnections between the Finnish design industry and timber industry. On display is also the exhibition Design for Every Body, which explores the connections between Finnish design and equality in the past century.
Design Museum, Korkeavuorenkatu 23, Helsinki
Kirpilä Art Collection & Reitz Foundation Museum
The Kirpilä Art Collection is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a new exhibition Years that repeat their days, which includes site-specific artworks by seven contemporary artists. Located in a penthouse apartment in Töölö, the Kirpilä Art Collection was once the home of art collector Juhani Kirpilä (1931–1988). Kirpilä also regularly organizes guided tours, including popular queer tours.
You can continue the art tour to the home museum of the Reitz Foundation not far from Kirpilä. The Reitz Foundation houses an astonishing art and antique collection of Lauri Reitz (1893–1959), one of Helsinki’s most notable property developers. The collection includes works by Finnish masters Akseli Gallen-Kallela and Hugo Simberg, as well as 12 paintings by Helene Schjerfbeck. The Reitz Foundation Museum is closed in July.
Kirpilä Art Collection, Pohjoinen Hesperiankatu 7, Helsinki
Reitz Foundation Museum, Apollonkatu 23 B 64, Helsinki
Verla Mill Museum
The Verla Mill Museum in the Kouvola region, southeastern Finland, is one of the seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Finland. With its well-preserved machines, power plants, and workers’ apartments, the old groundwood and board mill provides a unique, authentic journey to the 19th-century industrial milieu and lifestyle.
The historical and cultural trip to Verla can easily be extended to include a smaller or longer hike in nature, thanks to the nearby national park of Repovesi. This summer, it’s possible to travel to Repovesi by train, as the Finnish railway company VR is testing a new connection to the national park.
UPM Verla Mill Museum, Verlantie 295, Verla
Art Centre Salmela
Not too far from Verla, you can find the Art Center Salmela. Located in Mäntyharju amidst the South Savonian cultural landscape, Salmela hosts an annual art exhibition, Finland’s largest visual art festival. The artworks in the exhibition range from 20th-century modernism to more recent art, with a focus on visual artists of the emerging generation. In addition to Salmela’s attractive main building, the exhibition area covers an old courtyard with its pharmacy and post office, as well as a park with a restaurant and charming gazebos.
Art Centre Salmela, Mäntyharjuntie 25, Mäntyharju
More summer tips:
• Little Finlandia: During the renovation of Finlandia Hall, Little Finlandia, a brilliant piece of modern Finnish wood architecture, serves as a temporary venue. The pavilion-like building has a restaurant for enjoying lunch, after work, or weekend brunches right by the Töölö Bay. Karamzininranta 4, Helsinki
• Riviera x Lonna movie screenings: Located only a 10-minute ferry ride from Helsinki Market Square, the island of Lonna treats visitors not only to a beach sauna and seaside cafe but also to open-air movie screenings organized on four summer Thursdays. Lonna island, Helsinki
• House of Olaf: An over 100-year-old train service depot in Savonlinna was recently transformed into a music and microbrewery oasis by a local brewery Olaf Brewing. The event space was furnished in collaboration with the Finnish Design Shop Contract Sales. Asemantie 19, Savonlinna
• Muuratsalo Experimental House & Säynätsalo municipal hall: The Muuratsalo Experimental House and the Säynätsalo Town Hall, located on the neighboring islands of Lake Päijänne, are must-see Aalto sites in Finland. You can explore both buildings on guided tours during the summer. Melalammentie 2, Jyväskylä and Parviaisentie 9, Säynätsalo
Text: Nora Uotila