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Tue - Sat from 12 noon to 6 p.m.
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500 Terry Francois Street, San Francisco, CA 94158
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"There is only myself in my paintings. In them are my happiness and my pain, my unfulfilled longing, my whole life.”
Reidar Särestöniemi (1925–1981) is one of the most famous Finnish artists and the most important Lappish artist of his time. He was born as the youngest child in the seven-child family of Alma and Matti Kaukonen, later Särestöniemi, in the Kaukonen village of Kittilä.
Reidar Särestöniemi studied at the Finnish Academy of Arts in Helsinki (1947–1952) and the Ilja Repin Institute in Leningrad (1956–1959). Särestöniemi's career as an artist took off with his first solo exhibition, which he held in Helsinki in 1959. Apart from his student years, Särestöniemi lived his entire life on his home farm. He was awarded the title of artist professor in 1975. Reidar Särestöniemi was a colorful person who, in his time, sparked debate about the content of his art as well as his own personality.
Check out the videos from the museum
The Särestöniemi Museum in Kittilä Kaukose presents the art of the artist, professor Reidar Särestöniemi (1925–1981) and his living and working environment. After the artist's death, his brother Anton Särestöniemi (1921–1997) donated his inheritance to the Särestöniemi Museum Foundation, which made it possible to establish the museum in 1985. The museum was managed by the Kauko Sorjonen Foundation in 2016, when the Särestöniemi Museum Foundation merged with the Kauko Sorjonen Foundation._cc781905-5cde-3194-bb5b58d_badcf58d
The area of the museum includes the Särestöniemi family farm and buildings, representing the old Päropohlian building tradition, as well as the gallery and studio built by Reidar Särestöniemi, the so-called Reidarin Särestö. The architect couple Reima and Raili Pietilä designed the gallery and studio buildings in the 1970s, which represent modern Finnish wooden architecture. The stone foundation of the artist's first studio home is also located in the area. The first studio home was destroyed by fire in 1977.
In 1988, the museum foundation built an activity center for the museum, where, in addition to office space, there is a ticket office, a cafe and a small museum shop.
Vanha Särestö is Reidar Särestöniemi's childhood home. The artist's grandparents, Heikki (1859–1941) and Kaisa Kaukonen, b. Tammela (1851–1927), bought the Särestöniemi farm in 1889. The oldest part of the main building dates from 1873. The family's surname became Särestöniemi in the 1930s, after the name of the farm. Of Heikki and Kaisa's four sons, Matti (1890–1974) continued as the owner of the farm.
Särestöniemi farm was largely self-sufficient. Livelihood came from many sources; livestock farming was complemented by small-scale barley and potato cultivation, reindeer husbandry, hunting, fishing and berry growing. The main waterway Ounasjoki was a significant salmon river, where even man-sized salmon were caught. Forestry work, swimming and cargo driving brought cash income. Life was regulated by nature's annual cycle.
Reidar Särestöniemi's mother Alma Särestöniemi, nee Andersen (1894–1973) was born in Vesisaari, Northern Norway. Alma's mother Sofia Andersen, nee Tammela (1853–1913) came from Hanhimaa in Kittilä, and her father Erik Andersen, formerly Hirmu, (1847–1913) came from Keminmaa. Alma and Matti Särestöniemi got married in 1913 and settled in Särestö after initially living in Vesisaari. Alma and Matti had seven children, of whom Reidar was born in 1925. After the death of his parents, Reidar's brother Anton stayed to live in Vanhaa Särestö. After his brother's death, Anton served as Särestö's host until his death in 1997.
The buildings of the old Särestö were restored in the early 2000s. Old Särestö reflects the way of life of the past and tells the story of the Särestöniemi family and the early stages of the artist Reidar Särestöniemi. The artist's first studio space was located in the cheerful Vanha Särestö
Reidar Särestöniemi built the gallery next to his first studio home in 1972. Architects Reima and Raili Pietilä designed a great log building that blends perfectly into the surrounding landscape. Särestöniemi was one of the most famous artists of his time, who was visited by many people, from ordinary travelers to art buyers and state guests. The gallery functioned as both an exhibition and representative space with saunas. In the gallery's swimming pool, Särestöniemi could swim like a seal in the middle of his paintings.
The gallery's main exhibition changes by theme once a year. The exhibition is mainly based on the museum's own collections, but Särestöniemi's works from other collections are also borrowed for the exhibitions.
Burnt Atelier (1965-77)
The current studio was preceded by a studio home, Honkapirtti, built in 1965. The studio was designed by architect Robert Gunst, but Särestöniemi made the changes he wanted to the house. The studio home was destroyed in a fire on New Year's Eve 1977 due to an electrical short circuit. The fire was a heavy blow to Särestöniemi, who lost not only his home but also some of his paintings, his artist's supplies, an extensive art library, a large part of the poems he had written, as well as memorabilia collected from his childhood home and world travels. A log roof was later built over the basement of the studio.
Särestöniemi's new studio home was completed in October 1978. Architects Reima and Raili Pietilä were inspired by old Karelian houses and named the studio Valkeanmere talo. The building has 200 square meters per floor. The large window of the spacious studio room opens to the west, where the evening sun shines in. Reidar equipped his kitchen with a dishwasher and a long dining table and flowers. The artist's bedroom and guest room are located on the upper floor, above which there is also a spacious attic space.
Särestöniemi only had time to live in his new home for about 2.5 years, as he died in his studio on May 27, 1981 at the age of only 56.
The art exhibition in the atelier hall changes three times a year, and the hall also hosts concerts, theater performances and art events.