HISTORY OF THE
The history of the Serlachius Museums started with the dream that Gösta Serlachius had. It became true in a slightly different form that he had planned. Now the Serlachius Museums offer everything that his plans included.
THE DREAM OF GÖSTA SERLACHIUS THAT CAME TRUE
Paper mill owner Gösta Serlachius (1876–1942) was a well-known art collector and patron of arts already in 1920’s. At that time he had plans to build a museum in Mänttä to house his growing collection.
Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation was established in 1933 with the purpose to build and maintain a museum in Mänttä. Its rules determined in detail, what kind of museum would be built in Mänttä.
In addition to the exhibition space, the plans of the building included a café, reading room, library and housing for the curator of the museum and a library. Some financial means would be allocated for art acquisitions as well as for adorning the small industrial town of Mänttä wtih artworks.
The process of planning the art museum continued throughout the 1930‘s. Concurrently Gösta Serlachius commissioned building of several architecturally significant buildings. Those included Joenniemi manor designed by Jarl Eklund and so called White house, the head office of the paper combine G.A. Serlachius Ltd designed by Finnish architect brothers Valter and Bertel Jung.
An advanced planning work interrupted
Gösta Serlachius commissioned already in 1932 a Finnish architect Jarl Eklund to design the museum. Four years later their cooperation started to be undermined and Serlachius had plans to hand the planning of the museum over to well-known Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. Cooperation with Eklund however continued. At the same time Gösta Serlachius travelled in museums around the world to learn the latest ways of dealing with the issues of space, heating and lightning.
At the end, a long planning project was interrupted, when Gösta Serlachius died in 1942. The foundation’s board of trustees decided to give up the museum project as the continuation war still went on.
Ruth Serlachius had observed the museum project of her husband, Gösta Serlachius, for many years. In 1945 she and Serlachius family made a decision that finally solved the problem. A part of Joenniemi manor was opened as a museum in August 1945. It became the seventh art museum in Finland at that time.
Development of a Museum gain new speed
During the years 1943-1976, under leadership of R. Erik Serlachius (1901-1980), who represented the next generation, the museum in Joenniemi was open regularly but for quite short periods. In 1972 Fine Arts Foundation acquired the Joenniemi manor and surrounding park of Olof and Peter Serlachius.
Museum operations gained new speed as Gustaf Serlachius (1935-2009) led the Foundation between 1976-2009. Joenniemi manor was renovated thoroughly in 1983-84, after which art museum operations could utilize the entire building. Exhibition space covered an area of 500 sq.m.
The opening ceremonies of the renovated museum in 1 June 1984 celebrated also the 50th anniversary of the Fine Arts Foundation with one-year delay.
New Museums Signing New Era
In year 2000 Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation acquired the former head office building of the paper industry combine G. A. Serlachius Ltd. It was decided that the so-called White house would be transformed into a cultural historical museum that presents the history of Finnish forest industry, the history of the G.A. Serlachius Ltd. as well as that of Mänttä.
For the Foundation opening a new museum for the public in 2003 meant doubling as well as diversifying the operations. Alongside the appreciated art museum was created a unit that supplements the cultural service supply of small town Mänttä with versatile and experimental exhibitions.
When art Museum Gösta's extension will be dfinished in 2014, the Serlachius Museums for a unique cultural entity that offers a venue for the friends of art, as well as for the friends history, stories and drama.
The dream of Gösta Serlachius to be able to gather also other forms of culture than just art under his roof, will be true, 80 years later.