museum Open Tue -Sat 12-18
closed during Finnish holidays
The Särestöniemi Museum has been closed since March 17, 2020 for the time being to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Reidar Särestöniemi (1925-1981) is one of the best known Finnish artists and was the most remarkable Lappish artist of his time. He was born as the seventh and youngest child in the family of Alma and Matti Kaukonen in Kaukonen village, Kittilä. Later the family changed their name to Särestöniemi.
Reidar Särestöniemi studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki (1947-1952), and at the Ilya Repin Institute in Leningrad (1956-1959). His career got off to a start in 1959 when he held his first solo exhibition in Helsinki after returning from Leningrad. Another significant moment came fifteen years later when he was awarded an honorary professorship as an appreciation of his life's work. Except the time he was studing arts, Reidar Särestöniemi lived his whole life in Särestö. Reidar Särestöniemi was a colourful character who in his time attracted plenty of discussion about his art and his personality.
VIDEOS OF the MUSEUM SITE
The Särestöniemi Museum was founded in 1985. The Museum is maintained by the Kauko Sorjonen Foundation. The Café and Museum Office Building is designed by the acclaimed Finnish architects Reima and Raili Pietilä. The Café Building was built in 1988.
The Old Särestö
The Old Särestö is The Childhood Home of Reidar Särestöniemi. The farmhouse represents the traditional way of building in the Northern Finland. The grandfather of Reidar Särestöniemi, Heikki Kaukonen, bought the farm in the late 19th century. The main building was built in 1873. The opposite building is a stall and next to it is a cow barn. The river is called the Ounasjoki River and before the road was built it was the only way to reach Särestö. The road was built in 1985 at the same time as the museum was founded.
The family was self-sufficient and earned their living by farming, keeping cattle, fishing and hunting. They had to work hard and the times were not always so easy. Those days people used to do a lot of handicrafts. In the living room you can see handicraft related to men’s and women’s work.
Reidar’s mother Alma was born in Norway and she missed the old times back there. Alma put on the wall the pictures of the king and queen of Norway. When Reidar was a little child he used to tell visitors that the people in the pictures are his grandparents from Norway. The clocks on the wall were collected by Reidar’s brother Anton. The living room was Reidar’s studio in 1960-1965. To get natural light for painting Reidar made the windows larger and covered the walls with white panelling sheets. You can see pictures of that time in the bookshelf.
Reidar’s parents lived in the Old Särestö till they died in 1970’s. His brother Anton lived in the house till 1997. The Old Särestö was restored to represent the childhood time of Reidar Särestöniemi in 2000’s.
The studio was built in 1978. It is designed by the architects Reima and Raili Pietilä. By the Ounasjoki river Särestöniemi had a studio which burned down in a fire in 1977. Very soon after the fire the first plans were made for the new studio. The new Studio and home were completed in October 1978. It took only four months and 13 days to build the Studio.
There is a good lighting in the Studio. The big window opens to the west to avoid the dazzling sunshine. The log wall is treated from the inside with ultraviolet varnish which keeps it light coloured.
Reidar Särestöniemi never felt at home in the new Studio and he missed the previous Studio a lot. The new home felt empty and strange. Reidar lived in the studio only for two and a half years before he died in 1981 of heart attack.
The Gallery was built in 1972. It is also designed by Reima and Raili Pietilä. Reidar Särestöniemi was a very famous artist during his lifetime and Särestö was a popular place to visit. There were growing numbers of visitors in Särestö in the 1970’s and Reidar couldn’t work in peace in his Studio. The solution was to build a separate exhibition space - the Gallery.
The nature of Lapland and local people with their beliefs and stories influenced Reidar deeply and gave his art content and strength. Peatlands and fells, willow grouse, lynx, rams and reindeer are frequent motives in his works. Often an animal figure symbolises the artist himself. The Lappish nature gave Särestöniemi inspiration, but perhaps the most notable aspect of his art, strong colours. He kept exploring colours and the opportunities they offered throughout his career. This was not always unproblematic, as such use of colours was unusual in the Finnish art in the 1960's and 1970's and often led to intense criticism.
Although Lapland was a major inspiration for Särestöniemi, his art was influenced by other factors, such as the great artists of European modernism, Russian art, and prehistoric cave paintings. The Lappish influence strengthened in Särestöniemi's art as the time went by. His works from the 1950's differ from his most well-known.
The First Studio
There was a previous Studio which burned down in a fire on New Year’s Eve in 1977. All the paintings, furniture, personal archives, clothes, books etc. burned in the fire. The fire started from a defective electrical appliance. You can see the foundations of the old Studio between the Gallery and the Cafe. The first Studio was built in 1965 and it was designed by the architect Robert Gunst.