The Finnish National Gallery works actively in many ways to maintain, extend and develop its collections and make them available to the public. In this work, it employs a staff of professional curators, technicians, photographers, conservators and museum registrars.
From Storage to Show – The Journey of an Artwork
This section showcases the journey that a work of art makes from storage to an exhibition. The pictures and videos offer a glimpse of the many types of work done behind the scenes with the Finnish National Gallery’s collections.
Watch how a photographer approaches a difficult documentation assignment, listen to a conservator talking about the challenges of art conservation, and follow the setting up of an exhibition.
Home in Storage
Only a small selection of the more than 35,000 works of art in the National Gallery’s collections can be displayed at any one time in the galleries. The rest of the collections are held in art storage facilities. When curators have selected works for an upcoming exhibition, the works are fetched from storage by technicians. When an order is placed for the transfer of a work from storage, its transport is coordinated by museum registrars. Registrars are also in charge when works from the collection are given on loan to exhibitions in Finland or abroad.
Caring for Works of Art
Works of art are sensitive objects and must be handled with care to ensure that they are preserved for future generations. Before display, a conservator checks the condition of the work and carries out any necessary maintenance. Contemporary works of art in particular can be quite challenging!
Senior conservator Siukku Nurminen from Kiasma talks with artist Anni Rapinoja about works of art made from natural materials. The works in question belong to the Kiasma collections.
A technician at the Ateneum Art Museum is preparing Carl Eneas Sjöstrand’s sculpture Kyllikki (1879) for exhibition.
When a work is ready for display, it is sometimes photographed. A work of art in not necessarily an easy object to photograph, but the National Gallery photographers will always deliver, even in the case of such a gigantic piece as Torsten Wasastjerna’s (1863–1924) Falling Leaves (1897).
Apart from the art itself, museums also work with archive material. After a work or an exhibition has been documented by photographers, the photographs and other material are deposited in the Archive Collections and the catalogues in the Library.
Building an Exhibition – Work of Art in a Wider Context
When the works selected for the show are ready for display, technicians start constructing the exhibition following plans drawn up by curators and exhibition designers. A show consists of a carefully chosen selection of works that are associated with a certain theme, time or artist. The works can be from the museum’s own collections or on loan from elsewhere. They are hung on walls or otherwise installed in the galleries. If the exhibition includes other structures, such as partitions or display cases, they are assembled.
In the case of contemporary artworks, the artist too can participate in the construction of the show.
Showtime! Putting the Collection Out There
The works are now on display, and the exhibition is opened to the public. The permanent exhibition is seldom changed, although minor alterations are possible. Temporary exhibitions are generally open for a few months.
The collections and exhibitions offer the public many things to see and experience. Young music video makers were inspired by the permanent exhibition galleries at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum.