Villa Gyllenberg. Architects' rendition, Architechture Company Nomad Arkkitehdi Oy, photo implementation Noyale. Photo: Niklas Mäkelä

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Villa Gyllenberg will reopen to the public on 2 February 2022 following a renovation with a new exhibition: Spirit of the Times. Collection Ane Gyllenberg. The exhibition explores to what extent the spirit of the times influences how we decorate and what kind of art we like.

The museum underwent a major renovation in 2021, during which a new extension was completed. A new book has also been published about Villa Gyllenberg in Finnish and Swedish, Villa Gyllenberg – Koti Kuusisaaressa / Villa Gyllenberg – Ett hem på Granö, which reveals more information about the life of the Gyllenbergs in Kuusisaari.

The exhibition Spirit of the Times. Collection Ane Gyllenberg examines the collection and the interior of Villa Gyllenberg within the context of the style ideals of their times, thereby shedding light on three specific eras. Visitors will get to experience a luxurious interior from the 1930s, in which antiques, old paintings and religious objects take you back in time. In the 1940s, art and collecting helped build national esteem. This is also reflected in the Gyllenberg collection, which began to form around Finnish art from the 1750s to the 1970s. After the Second World War, the focus turned from the past to the present and towards the future. At the same time, tastes in art changed: contemporary art was preferred over old art. In the 1950s and 1960s, modernism also made its breakthrough at Villa Gyllenberg in both the interior design and the art collection.

With all its art and antiques, Villa Gyllenberg represents in itself a holistic work of art created by Ane and Signe Gyllenberg while also serving as a public gallery for their collection of art and antiques. In the home museum, visitors can experience the atmosphere of an upper-class home in the mid-20th century, both in everyday life and on special occasions. The couple lived in the house from 1938 to 1977.

Signe and Ane Gyllenberg established a foundation in 1949, to which they later donated their art collection. Ane Gyllenberg’s favourite artist was Helene Schjerfbeck, and the collection already included 26 works by Schjerfbeck during Ane’s and Signe’s time. Today the collection has 39 Schjerfbecks. The Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation continues to make new acquisitions for the collection, which now comprises over 400 paintings and 1000 objects.

Renovation of Villa Gyllenberg

Many of the antiques and furniture pieces were restored in 2021 while the museum underwent renovation. New curtains for the small salon were made to order in England. Before the renovation began, an old painting was found rolled up: a high-quality reproduction of Guido Reni’s (1575–1642) Fortuna. The carefully restored and framed painting is now being exhibited for the first time. The Spirit of the Times exhibition has been planned by the museum’s own staff: Lotta Nylund, Siiri Oinonen, Lassi Patokorpi and Mikko Välimäki.

In connection with the renovation, a further extension was added with a new entrance to the museum, a museum shop and a cloakroom. Accessibility and staff facilities were also improved, and the parking facilities for cars and bicycles were upgraded and expanded. The new extension was designed to integrate harmoniously with both the original part of the museum and the gallery extension built in the late 1970s. The new extension was designed by Nomad Architects and the chief architect was Anna-Mari Gramatikova-Lindberg. The total cost of the renovation and expansion project was EUR 5 million.

Publication of new book about Villa Gyllenberg

The new book Villa Gyllenberg – Koti Kuusisaaressa (FIN) / Villa Gyllenberg – Ett hem på Granö (SWE) takes readers back in time to the home of Signe and Ane Gyllenberg, which is today an attractive art and home museum.

The book presents the architecture and interior design of the villa built in 1938, as well as the Gyllenbergs’ collection of art and antiques, including its silver and porcelain. The book also sheds light on the life of the Gyllenbergs at their villa: how the owners and staff lived, how the beautiful garden was maintained, and what kinds of social events they organised.

The richly illustrated volume conveys the enchanting atmosphere of Villa Gyllenberg created by the dialogue between nature, art and antique furniture. The author of the book, researcher Lassi Patokorpi, is director of the Raseborg Museum and chair of the Finnish committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM). He previously worked as a specialist researcher at the Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation. The beautiful photographs taken by photographer Katja Hagelstam are a key element of the book. The publisher of the book (176 pages) is Parvs, the author is Lassi Patokorpi, and the foreword was written by Chief Curator Lotta Nylund.

Exhibition programme

Saturday 19 February at 3pm: Public lecture and discussion on the interiors of upper-class homes from the 1920s to the 1950s. Researcher Maija Mäkikalli, who recently completed her dissertation on the furniture of Boman Oy, and Lassi Patokorpi, author of Villa Gyllenberg – Koti Kuusisaaressa, discuss the interior design of Villa Gyllenberg and the interiors of upper-class homes during this era. The moderator is Lotta Nylund, Chief Curator of Villa Gyllenberg.

Saturday 26 February at 3pm: Public lecture in Finnish and Swedish on the life, portrait paintings and longing for beauty of Helene Schjerfbeck. Sue Cedercreutz-Suhonen, former chief guide at Villa Gyllenberg and Schjerfbeck researcher, discusses the life and paintings of Helene Schjerfbeck. Inspired by the depictions of modern life painted by French artist Constantin Guys, Schjerfbeck reinterpreted them in her own paintings. In this lecture, works by both artists will be presented alongside each other, two of which are part of Gyllenberg’s Schjerfbeck collection.

Saturday 5 March at 3pm: Expert lecture on the Rococo chests of drawers, porcelain and silver in the Gyllenberg collection. Lassi Koivunen, conservator of chests of drawers belonging to the Swedish royal family, discusses two Rococo chests of drawers in the Gyllenberg collection that he has restored, while Lassi Patokorpi discusses other gems in the collection, such as its porcelain and silver.

Saturday 26 March at 3pm: Public lecture and discussion forum on the story behind Fortuna, the lost work of art. A fine old painting was recently discovered at Villa Gyllenberg that is now being exhibited for the first time. It is a reproduction of Fortuna (1637) by Guido Reni. But why is Fortune depicted as a woman whose purse is breaking? Professor Altti Kuusamo discusses the history of the Fortune theme in art, Chief Curator Lotta Nyland describes how the reproduction was discovered, and Art Conservator Olli Poijärvi explains how the painting was restored.

Source: Villa Gyllenberg