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Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art

The Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art offers changing exhibitions of modern and contemporary art. Enjoy contemporary art amid the coastal landscapes of Vaasa.

Opening hours

Open Wednesday–Sunday 10–17. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Exceptional opening hours


€12 / €7 / €0

Detailed price list

The Kuntsi museum shop

Welcome to explore the offerings of the Kuntsi Museum Shop! Our product range includes, among other things, the museum's own publications, books, posters, postcards, notebooks, children's toys, textiles, and gifts. You can make purchases at the museum shop during the museum's opening hours. You are welcome to shop without paying the museum admission fee.

About the museum

Kuntsi Museum for Modern Art

The Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art is situated in a beautiful location by the sea in the Inner Harbour. The museum is named after art collector and consul Simo Kuntsi (1913–1984).

The activities of the Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art are based on changing exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, as well as exhibitions showcasing its own collections. The exhibitions delve deep into phenomena of contemporary art, offering insights into identity construction and understanding the phenomena of our time.

The museum spaces provide excellent opportunities for hosting events. The Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art especially hosts interdisciplinary performances and events in collaboration with third-sector organizations and audience groups.

The history of the Kuntsi Museum for Modert Art

The Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art opened its doors to the public in February 2007, but its roots extend nearly 50 years into the past.

Consul Simo Kuntsi began collecting his own art collection in the 1950s. Gradually, the walls of his home could not contain the growing collection. At the same time, Simo Kuntsi dreamed of establishing a contemporary art museum in Finland. Martti Ulkuniemi, the rector of Vaasa Commercial College, suggested placing the collection in the school’s premises, which Kuntsi saw as a good idea, not least because of the educational opportunities: publicly displaying the collection would bring artists and the general public closer together.

In 1970, Simo Kuntsi donated 121 Finnish art pieces to the commercial college. He established a foundation in his name to which he donated the artworks and made an agreement with the city of Vaasa for the permanent deposit of the collection in the city. The opening ceremony was held on February 2, 1970. The art was available not only to students but also to visiting groups at the commercial college. Acquiring a collection of contemporary art was a significant opportunity for Vaasa at a time when there were no permanent exhibitions of contemporary art collections in the city or its surroundings. Eventually, the space no longer met the requirements of the time. The collection was on display at Vaasa Commercial College until 1997 when the artworks were stored away.

In 2000, the Vaasa City Council decided to renovate a building located in Vaasa’s Inner Harbour, originally functioning as the Customs House, into a museum of modern art. The decision was based on the agreement between the Kuntsi Foundation and the city of Vaasa in 1970 for the permanent exhibition of the art collection. Construction began in 2004.

With the completion of the Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art, the art collection of the Kuntsi Foundation finally found its long-awaited home. At the same time, the museum acquired another collection, the Swanljung Collection, which is a collection amassed by dentist and art collector Lars Swanljung (1944–2022). The opening exhibition of the Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art presented both collections side by side.

Simo Kuntsi and Lars Swanljung

Simo Kuntsi

Simo Kuntsi (1913–1984) was born in Jyväskylä but moved to Vaasa with his family at the age of five. His childhood family included his father Kaarlo, mother Helmi (née Kiljander), and siblings Risto and Sinikka. The atmosphere of the family home nurtured an interest in art. Members of the Kuntsi family were involved in various artistic endeavors, including the Vaasa Art Association. In the 1920s, Kaarlo Kuntsi began acquiring artworks from the association’s exhibitions and directly from local artists for their home. Simo was involved in selecting suitable paintings for the walls of their home, but his dreams of pursuing a career as a professional artist were not accepted by his father.

Simo Kuntsi graduated with a degree in economics from the Helsinki School of Economics in 1934. He began his career following in his father’s footsteps at Vaasan Höyrymylly and held various positions, such as commercial director, deputy managing director, and board member, before retiring. In 1937, Kuntsi married Margareta Knuusi, with whom he had three children. After their divorce, Kuntsi married M.A. Anna Kaarina (Kaisa) Kaukoranta.

In the 1950s, Kuntsi started collecting old Finnish art. His interest in Finnish contemporary art began in the early 1960s. Alongside Finnish art, Kuntsi and his wife Kaisa collected international art from the 1950s to the 1980s. In an interview with Suomen Kuvalehti in 1983, Kuntsi expressed his passion for art collecting: “I have never been a wasteful person, I have not exaggerated or led a luxurious life. Art has been the luxury I have pursued.”

Simo Kuntsi also played a broader role in the art community. He became involved in the activities of Nykytaide ry (Contemporary Art Association) in the mid-1960s and served as its chairman from 1977 to 1984. In 1963, Kuntsi was invited to join the Maecenas Guild, which aimed to support visual arts and enhance members’ knowledge of art. He served as the guild’s chairman for ten years. In 1972, Kuntsi, in collaboration with the Maecenas Guild, established the Visual Arts Fund within the Finnish Cultural Foundation.

Lars Swanljung

Lars Swanljung (1944–2022) was born in Vaasa as the first child of a family of five. In 1964, he began his studies in dentistry at the University of Helsinki and later founded a private dental clinic in Helsinki with a friend. Swanljung was interested in the Greek language and culture, which he started studying in 1975. His interest expanded to include the Mediterranean region, especially Turkey and Italy. Swanljung was actively involved in the Helsinki Finland-Greece Association. In 1997, he was knighted by the Greek Phoenix Order.

Lars Swanljung began collecting vinyl records and movies in his youth, inspired by his father, Kaj Swanljung. He often mentioned belonging to a family of collectors. His passion for art emerged in the late 1980s. The catalyst was the opening of Galerie Forsblom’s pop art exhibition, from which Lars Swanljung and his wife Outi Swanljung purchased two pieces together.

The collection grew rapidly. In 2000, the Swanljung Collection was publicly exhibited for the first time, first in Vaasa at the Tikanoja Art Museum and then in Espoo. Even then, the collector expressed a desire to place his collection in his hometown. This wish was fulfilled when the Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art opened in 2007.

Lars Swanljung was involved in founding the Friends of the Academy of Fine Arts association. He received recognition for his work in culture. For example, in 2014, he was awarded the Vaasa City Cultural Award and named the Friend of Contemporary Art of the Year. The award was presented by the Friends of Kiasma. In 2018, Swanljung received the Medal of Merit from the Museum Association. In the same year, he donated the Swanljung Collection to the city of Vaasa. Swanljung continued to supplement his collection with artwork donations until his final years.

The Kuntsi Foundation

Consul Simo Kuntsi (1913–1984) founded the Kuntsi Foundation in 1970. In the foundation’s founding year, Kuntsi entered into an agreement with the city of Vaasa, whereby the city committed to preserving Simo Kuntsi’s collection in the city and providing facilities for the artworks.

The foundation’s mission is to offer the public the opportunity to familiarize themselves with contemporary art and to collect and present phenomena of visual art from the recent past.

Consul Simo Kuntsi served as the chairman of the Kuntsi Foundation’s board throughout his life. The foundation’s board includes representatives from the National Gallery, the city of Vaasa, and the Finnish Artists’ Association. Additionally, the board has been supplemented with other experts.

Board of the Kuntsi Foundation 2022–2023:

  • Markku Lumio, Chairman
  • Hannele Kuntsi-Aalto, Representative of the Kuntsi family
  • Anne-Marie Viinamäki, Statutory member from the city of Vaasa
  • Teemu Mäki, Statutory member from the Finnish Artists’ Association
  • Leevi Haapala, Statutory member from the National Gallery
  • Susanna Kuningas, Expert member
  • Anne-Maj Salin, Foundation Secretary

Long-standing members of the Kuntsi Foundation’s board, artist Kauko Lehtinen (1925–2012, Turku), and artist Veikko Takala (1923–2008, Vaasa), were named honorary members of the Kuntsi Foundation’s board in November 2007.

For inquiries and contacts:

Secretary Anne-Maj Salin, Annemaj.salin(a), +358 40 590 5524.

Link to the Kuntsi Foundation website

Collections of the Kuntsi Museum for Modern Art

The Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art has two collections: the Kuntsi Foundation Art Collection and the Swanljung Collection.


Book a venue

The premises of the Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art include exhibition spaces as well as the Kuntsi Studio, where activities such as children's art workshops are organized. The spaces can be rented for private events outside of regular opening hours.

Available venues

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