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Leevi Haapala

Born September 24, 1972, Keuruu

Master of Arts (art history, museology, cultural history) 1997, University of Turku
PhD (art history) 2012, University of Helsinki

Museum Director 2015–, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art
Professor of Praxis 2014–15, Academy of Fine Arts/University of the Arts
Acting Chief Curator of Collections, amanuensis and member of the acquisitions committee 2007–2014, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art
Researcher 1997–2007, Central Art Archives/ Finnish National Gallery
Civilian national service 1994–95, Museum of Contemporary Art

Jury member for the Ars Fennica Award 2015–
Board member of the Kiasma Foundation 2015–
Board member of the Pro Arte Foundation and member of the working group for the IHME Contemporary Art Festival 2008–15
Member of the expert group for Young Artist of the Year, Tampere Art Museum 2012­–15

Photo: National Gallery/Pirje Mykkänen
Written by Olli Siitonen

Translated by Matthew Billington

Career in Kiasma and Chair at the University of the Arts

The journey of Dr Leevi Haapala to the helm of Kiasma is a modern retelling of the traditional apprenticeship. He first came to the Museum of Contemporary Art in 1994 as a non-military serviceman to work on the ARS95 exhibition. Thereafter, Dr Haapala worked for the Finnish National Gallery for two decades as assistant, researcher, curator, and acting chief curator. His journey to the director's post has involved several stages that have given him insights into the many parts of a living museum.

Photo: Nina Kaverinen

“It's a good thing that my career has also involved getting my hands dirty. It has given me a comprehensive view of the museum. Coming from outside straight to the top you wouldn't necessarily see the immense amount of work and the vital part everyone here has to play in keeping the museum running. On the other hand, it was also important to spend one academic year at the University of the Arts – to get some distance and gain a new perspective on our work through teaching and the theory of curating, as well as getting an inside view of the University of the Arts.”

Dr Leevi Haapala, Wiki marathon at Kiasma, February 1–2, 2013. Photo: Finnish National Gallery/Petri Virtanen.

Dr Haapala was appointed Professor of Exhibition Studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in 2014. He worked on the development the new two-year Master's programme for curatorial studies named Praxis – Master's Programme of Exhibition Studies. In his classes Dr Haapala made good use of his contacts with Kiasma.

“I invited my colleagues from Kiasma to visit the Academy to discuss the various stages of running an exhibition. We had various experts from lawyers to technicians. To introduce my students to the work of a museum, we made several trips to Kiasma, including the conservation department. After I left for Kiasma, Dr Hanna Johansson, from the University of Helsinki, took over from me. But I'm still in contact with my students.”

With Praxis students on board the boat of Pontus Kyander: Maria Savela, Anastasia Isakova, Mia Kivinen, Leevi Haapala, Ville Laaksonen, Tintti Timonen.


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