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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

Studies and the move to Helsinki

Dr Leevi Haapala, Director of Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art since Summer 2015, began his university studies in Turku and moved to Helsinki in connection with his civilian national service in Summer 1994.

“I was the first non-military serviceman at the Museum of Contemporary Art and I got to work on the ARS95 exhibition at Ateneum, where the Museum was still housed in the early 1990s.”

After his discharge from national service, Leevi Haapala stayed in Helsinki and attended the Vasari programme, jointly run by the Academy of Fine Arts and the Art History Department of the University of Helsinki. This degree programme on art writing was named after Giorgio Vasari, the 16th century Italian considered to be the first art historian. While on the programme, he learned to know Dr Riikka Stewen, who would later be his dissertation supervisor. Another teacher on the Vasari programme was Dr Altti Kuusamo, now professor of Art History at the University of Turku.

“I took a study module in the Vasari programme and I also studied aesthetics at the University of Helsinki. But in the end I arranged my studies so that I graduated from the University of Turku. When I started on my doctoral dissertation in 2003, it was natural to do it in Helsinki, as I was already familiar with people at the university.”

In 2011, Leevi Haapala defended his doctoral thesis The Unconscious in Contemporary Art. The Gaze, Voice and Time in Finnish Contemporary Art at the Turn of the Millennium.

Art history students' Christmas party, Turku 1993. From the left Leevi Haapala, Taru Elfving, Riitta Salmi, Tero Koskinen, Taina Myllyharju, Maikki Salminen.


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