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Susanna Pettersson

Born August 30, 1966, Helsinki

Doctor of Philosophy (Art History), 2008. PhD thesis title: Suomen Taideyhdistyksestä Ateneumiin. Fredrik Cygnaeus, Carl Gustaf Estlander ja taidekokoelman roolit, (’From the Finnish Art Society to the Ateneum Art Museum. Fredrik Cygnaeus, Carl Gustaf Estlander and the roles of the art collection’), University of Helsinki.

Director, Finnish National Gallery, Ateneum, 2014-
Director, Finnish Institute in London , 2013–14
Director, Alvar Aalto Foundation and  Alvar Aalto Museum, 2010–13
Development Director, Finnish National Gallery, 2007–10 
Senior Adviser, Art Museum Development Unit, Finnish National Gallery, 2001–07 
Chief Curator, Education Department, Finnish National Gallery, 1996–2001
Curator,  Education Department, Finnish National Gallery, 1992-96

Academic activities
Docent of Museology, University of Jyväskylä, 2012–
Visiting Lecturer, Reinwardt Academy/Amsterdam, 2011–

Photo: Kim Varstala
Written by Susanna Pettersson, Kaija Hartikainen (ed.)
Translated by John Calton

My best memory of the University of Helsinki

Studies in the University meant delving into a great number of interesting subjects from philosophy to classical literature, but also getting to know talented people. As president of the subject organisation for students of art history, Eidos, I often sat in the new student house in Mannerheim street planning activities and tapping away on a typewriter to produce copy for the organisation’s magazine.

The high points of the art history department were the annual excursions to various places in Finland. Churches and manor houses were thoroughly visited. Now and then study trips were made beyond the Finnish borders. The trip to northern Italy led by Professor Henrik Lilius took us from Milan to Rome, with many stops between. We saw stunning architecture and got a taste for Averna. Meanwhile, the Berlin Wall was coming down. We heard about it on the train.

The years in the University came to a climax with the doctoral degree ceremony for doctorands, the promootio. I wore my sword with pride, the one that had belonged to my grandfather, Professor Lars Pettersson. I particularly recall the moment after the aubade, the address to the rising sun. Senate Square was bathed in light as my eyes grew weary. Someone magicked a football into existence, which the graduates, in their white ball-gowns, and the young men sporting their tails, began to kick around. The setting couldn’t have been better!

The degree conferment ceremony at the moment 'aubades' are delivered.​
The degree conferment ceremony at the moment 'aubades' are delivered.​


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