History of the Ostrobothnian Museum

History of the Ostrobothnian Museum

Historiallinen kuva Pohjanmaan museosta
Historical image of the Ostrobothnian Museum

The first museums in Finland were established at the end of the 19th century, as part of the national awakening. In Vaasa it was Ostrobothnia’s Historical Museum Association, which led the initiative in 1895.

The association’s goal was to collect artefacts and written material from Ostrobothnia, for the benefit of scientific research and with a view to paving the way for a permanent museum exhibition. The collected items were archaeological finds, ecclesiastical objects, books and writings, coins and medallions, costumes, furniture and household utensils, as well as items related to war. The first temporary exhibition opened in 1896.

Professor Karl Hedman (1864-1931) is intimately linked to the establishment of the museum in Vaasa. Hedman was a dedicated collector of art and antiques. It was he who shaped the guidelines for the work of the museum until 1931. Following Hedman’s death, Arne Appelgren served as the museum’s long-term curator.

When museums began to be professionally run after the war, the staff at the Ostrobothnian Museum increased, and the museum was divided administratively into a department of cultural history and a department of art. The museum was designated as a provincial museum in 1981 and a regional art museum in 1983. Its area of responsibility expanded from Vaasa to the province of Ostrobothnia covering activities in the fields of cultural history, archaeology, building research and art.

The museum was run by the museum association up until 1990, when the City of Vaasa officially took over the responsibility for the running of the museum, its collections and personnel. In 1990, the collections of Ostrobothnia Australis were incorporated into the museum.

For many years the Museum of Ostrobothnia had temporary exhibition premises at various locations around the city, before the city authorities decided to have a new museum building erected in Marianpuisto park. The new building, which was designed by architect Eino Forsman, was officially opened in June 1930. In 1967, a new exhibition wing was added, designed by Erik Kråkström.