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Collections of the Ostrobothnian Museum

The collections of the Ostrobothnian Museum include cultural and historical artefacts, photographs, archival material, works of art, and natural history specimens.

Ostrobothnian Museum collects tangible and intangible cultural heritage related to the region of Ostrobothnia and the city of Vaasa. The range of material conveying cultural heritage is broad and includes both everyday objects and renowned works of art. An object of cultural and historical value and museum interest does not have to be particularly old or of high monetary value. What matters is that the artefact represents its time, place, and social environment.

For example, the Ostrobothnian has a collection of folk art made by skilled carpenters and decorative painters, including spinning wheel distaffs, grandfather clocks, and furniture decorated with painted motifs. A unique collection of folk textiles, including embroidered sweaters from Korsnäs and, most recently, a Strömsö sweater, complete the collection. The culture of the gentry is represented by period furniture and decorative and utilitarian objects. The collection also includes curiosities such as a Nautilus trophy and two chairs designed for the King of Finland.

Information on the history of manufacture, use, and ownership adds significantly to the museum value of the object. When such information can be provided, the object can be used in museum activities such as research, publications, and exhibitions.

Collections are systematically expanded through acquisitions and donations. Donations are accepted if they match the museum’s collection profile, and their preservation can be guaranteed.

Cultural and historical collections

The association for the local historical museum, Pohjanmaan historiallisen museon yhdistys, was founded in 1895, and the process of assembling the collections began the same year. In the early decades, the collection acquired objects relating to the agrestic culture and the life of the gentry in the region. In addition, the collections were enriched with products from the glass factories that operated in Ostrobothnia in the 1700s and 1800s and with objects related to the typical coastal industries, such as sealing and shipping. The collection of the Ostrobothnian Museum also includes special collections such as Ingvald Sourander’s silver collection of 214 objects and Mauritz Hallberg’s collection of coins and medals. More than 35 000 objects from the extensive cultural history collection have currently been digitised.

Karl Hedman started his own collection in 1892. In the 1890s, he was active in the association and worked on compiling the museum’s collection. Karl Hedman and his wife Elin Hedman, née Hasselblatt, established the Hedman Foundation, to which they donated their collection. The foundation later donated the collection to the City of Vaasa. The collection consists mainly of domestic and imported ceramics, silver, furniture, antiques, and visual art, as well as a number of smaller items such as textiles and jewellery. The collection is funded by the Hedman Foundation.

Art collections

The art collection of the Ostrobothnian Museum contains works mainly by artists who worked in and depicted the Ostrobothnian region. In addition, acquisitions of both older and contemporary art from artists working elsewhere in Finland have been made. Ship paintings and a few icons are also part of the collection. The collection covers a wide range of periods and is diverse in content. The art collections also include donated collections such as the Anne-Marie Cronström memorial and the collection of the Vaasa Art Association.

The art collection of the City of Vaasa started in 1913 with the acquisition of fine art for public spaces in the city. In addition to Finnish art, the collection includes foreign prints purchased from the Grafinova exhibitions organised by the Ostrobothnian Museum. The collection will be expanded further, and some of the works will be acquired and incorporated directly into the urban space.

The Karl Hedman collection and the accompanying collection of the art dealer Gösta Stenman (the so-called Stenman pledge) contain some of the most famous works of Finnish visual art. The collection includes some 20 works by Hugo Simberg and Helene Schjerfbeck, and more than 30 works by Tyko Sallis. Hedman’s collection also includes old foreign art from the 16th century onwards. Among the older foreign art is Jacob Gillig’s fish setting from 1684 and, more recently, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s lithograph Nuit blanche from 1893.

The collections of the Ostrobothnian Museum contain more than 5,300 works.

Natural history collections

The natural history collections of the Ostrobothnian Museum include specimens of plants, animals, and stones. The collections mainly represent the flora and fauna of the biotic region of southern Ostrobothnia (Ostrobothnia Australis). The plant collection was established in 1925 and the insect collection in 1928. The collections include a small number of fish, reptiles, molluscs, and other organisms.

The bird collection consists of nearly 600 specimens and more than 100 nests with eggs and a number of unidentified eggs. The mammal collection contains about 80 animals. The most important of these are in the Bodén-Stenbäck collection. J. A. Bodén and district physician I. Stenbäck were pioneers in Finnish art of conservation. They donated their collection to the City of Vaasa in 1886.

The insect collection consists of about 37 000 specimens of various insects, including beetles, butterflies, and Hymenoptera. Sub-collections include the butterfly collection of jaeger Emil Sjöholm and the butterfly collection of Birger and Hjördis Lingonblad.

The plant collection contains some 46 000 plant specimens, most of which are tubular plants. The plant collection also includes a small collection of algae, lichens, and mosses.

The geological collections consist of mineral and rock samples, divided into three sub-collections. The largest is the Vaasa Lyseo collection of 660 stones. The sub-collections also include the collection from the closed Korsnäs mine of Outokumpu Oy.

A large part of the collection has been donated by the Ostrobothnia Australis rf. Other major donors include Vaasa Lyseo and Per-Eric Grankvist.

Archive collections

The photographic and documentary archives of the Ostrobothnian Museum contain material primarily from Vaasa and Ostrobothnia.

The museum’s photo collections include some 200 000 photographs from the area. The oldest photographs date back to the 1850s, including, for example, a rare collection of daguerreotype portraits. In addition, the archives contain material from many photographers who worked in Vaasa. Among the oldest are the collections of Holger Nyblin, Karl Borlin, and Uno Finnilä, and the younger ones of Agda Söderman and Sverre Boucht. The archive also houses Alfred Franzén’s glass negatives from Ostrobothnia, as well as an extensive collection of portraits. The largest individual collections of industrial photographs are those of the textile factory Vaasan Puuvillatehdas and Mauno Mannelin.

The audiovisual material in the archive consists of various types of sound recordings and moving image recordings.

The document archive contains personal and family history material, as well as historical material relating to the activities of Vaasa’s business establishments, schools, and associations from the 1850s onwards. The oldest documents relate to the activities of the local trade guild from the 1700s and 1800s, as well as to shipping and maritime education in Ostrobothnia. The archives contain various types of documents: small prints and histories of the museum, the city of Vaasa, and Ostrobothnia, as well as maps, nautical charts, and architectural drawings. A special feature of the archive are the manuscripts of the mystics of Ostrobothnia from the early 19th century. In total, the archive contains more than 200 shelf metres of material.

The Karl and Elin Hedman archive contains correspondence on social and cultural issues from the late 1800s to around 1930. The Karl Hedman antiquarian library contains literature from the 1500s to the early 1900s.

With the museum’s organisational restructuring, part of the Tikanoja Art Museum’s archives, such as the correspondence of Eemu Mynt and Frithjof Tikanoja, have been transferred to the archives of the Ostrobothnian Museum.

Archive services

The photographic and documentary archives are available to researchers by appointment. Extensive searches are subject to a fee in accordance with the prices list. A fee is also charged for the use of the archive’s images for publication purposes, in accordance with the prices list.

For information on image requests, access to photographs, and appointments, please contact the archives amanuensis.