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Tuija Wahlroos

Born June 16, 1968, Kajaani

Master of Arts (art history) 1996, University of Helsinki

Museum Director 2005–, the Gallen-Kallela Museum
Acting Museum Director 2003–05, the Gallen-Kallela Museum
Exhibitions Manager 1998-2003, the Gallen-Kallela Museum
Acting Museum Director 1997–98, the Gallen-Kallela Museum
Exhibitions and project Manager 1995–97, the Gallen-Kallela Museum
Exhibitions secretary 1995, City of Karkkila
Employers during her student years, 1988–94: City of Helsinki, the Design Museum, the Gallen-Kallela Museum, the Retretti Art Centre, Galleria Kateriina, Kainuun Sanomat

Board member 2008–, the Kalevala Society
Board member 2008–,the Union of Academic Museum Employees in Finland

Photo: Markus Wahlroos
Written by Tuija Wahlroos (Riitta-Hurmerinta, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Expeditions in darkest Russia

There are times I feel very privileged to be able to work at a museum. The absolute high point of my job is the wide range of experiences it offers. My work has taken me to many fascinating corners of the world. Akseli Gallen-Kallela is most often linked to France, Germany, and Hungary, but surprisingly Russia has become the country my job has most frequently led me to on business.

The changed situation in Russia made possible a new kind of cooperation with the Finno-Ugric regions of Russia in the 1990s. In 1995–98 we made trips to document visual art in the republics of Komi, Udmurtia, Mordovia, and Mari El. We also did similar work in Estonia and Hungary. Our exhibition Ugriculture in 2000 presented contemporary, ethno-futuristic art from our linguistic cousins. In 2001–03 it was the turn of the Khanty, Mansi, and Nenets of Western Siberia. Our Spring 2003 exhibition Yhteinen maa ('A Land Shared') also presented art from the Sami regions of Finland, Sweden, and Norway.

Later we heard that our documenting work had had a positive effect on the employment opportunities of the often marginalised artists of these regions as well as on research conducted at local universities. The best part of these trips, as often with my job in general, was getting to meet all kinds of people in all kinds of situations, including a fair share of amusing incidents.

Documenting the West Siberian landscape on a tributary of the River Ob, May 2002. Photo: Anne Pelin.

Other important projects were our exhibitions on the life’s work of Leo Tolstoy in 2010 and Nikolai Roerich in 2015. There is much still to explore in terms of Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s Russian connections, and in this the knowledge and contacts so far acquired by the museum are invaluable.

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