History of the Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art

History of the Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art


The Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art was named after Consul Simo Kuntsi (1913–1984). The art collection of the foundation established by him is considered one of the most important collections of modern and contemporary art in Finland.

For Simo Kuntsi, it was important to make contemporary art known to the public, and he dreamt of founding a museum of modern art in Finland. In 1970, he established a foundation named after him and donated his accumulating collection of 121 works to it. In the same year, part of the collection was displayed to the public in the premises of Vaasa commercial college.

In 2000, Vaasa City Council decided that the former customs warehouse in the Inner Harbour should be restored to a museum of modern art. The construction work began in 2004, and in February 2007 the Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art was opened to the public. It was then that the agreement made in 1970 between the Kuntsi Foundation and the City of Vaasa on the permanent display of the art collection was fulfilled.

In 2007, Lars Swanljung’s collection of contemporary art was deposited in the Kuntsi Foundation. This meant that the collections of two major art collectors found their home in the Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art. The collections deposited in the museum and other contemporary art are displayed in various changing exhibitions.

The customs warehouse

The customs warehouse taken into use in 1879 was designed by architect Ernst Theodor Granstedt. The warehouse was built in the Neo-Renaissance style, and later, in 1925, expanded on the basis of the plans of city architect Carl Schoultz. In the 1950s, office spaces were built on the upper floor.

During the 1990s and 2000s, Nandor Mikola’s watercolour museum and the customs office, among others, operated in the building.