The Ateneum reaches the magic milestone of 500,000 annual visitors. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Aleks Talve

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The Ateneum Art Museum in Finland has achieved a remarkable milestone, surpassing half a million visitors in 2023. With 501,036 visitors recorded by December 10, the museum has exceeded its previous annual visitor record, set in 2017, which stood at 440,828.

Record-Breaking Year Amid Late Opening: This feat is particularly impressive given that the Ateneum only opened its doors in mid-April this year, after a lengthy closure for a ventilation renovation.

The museum remained closed for approximately one year, yet it managed to attract a record number of art enthusiasts in a considerably shorter timeframe.

2023's Successful Exhibitions: The museum's success this year is attributed to its diverse and engaging exhibitions. Among them, the Albert Edelfelt exhibition, which ran from May 5 to September 17, 2023, drew an impressive 351,246 visitors, becoming the most popular exhibition in Ateneum's history. Other notable exhibitions include 'A Question of Time', the 'Colour & Light – The Legacy of Impressionism', and Hugo Simberg's photographs and art display.

Leadership Transition at the Ateneum: The museum's director, Marja Sakari, expressed gratitude to the visitors and excitement for the museum's future as she prepares to retire on December 31, 2023. Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff, the current chief curator of exhibitions, is set to take over as director starting January 1, 2024. Von Bonsdorff is looking forward to continuing the museum's success, highlighting the role of its renovation in enhancing visitor experience.

Historical Context of Visitor Numbers: The Ateneum's record-breaking visitor count in 2023 is a testament to its standing as a cultural beacon in Finland. It continues to outshine its previous popular years, such as 2017 with the von Wright brothers and the Treasures from the National Gallery of Duckburg exhibitions, and other years with notable exhibitions like Tove Jansson in 2014 and Helene Schjerfbeck in 2012.

The Ateneum's achievement in 2023, considering the late opening, underscores the museum's appeal and the public's enduring interest in art, setting an optimistic tone for the coming years under new leadership.

HT

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