In the summer of 1886 the Finnish landscape painter Victor Westerholm (1860-1919) invited some artist friends to his new home Tomtebo close to the Lemström Canal. That sounded the starting shot for the “Önningeby Artists’ Colony”, which brought together Swedish and Finnish artists in Åland for the next 30 years. Elin Danielson, Hanna Rönnberg, J.A.G. Acke and Edvard Westman were among the artists in the colony. The artists were put up on farms in Jomala Önningeby.
Önningeby museum opened in 1992 in the old stone barn on Jonesas farm. It was extended in 1999, greatly multiplying the exhibition space. In addition to art from the turn of the century, there are objects and pictures than tell a story about the environment.
In 2017 Önningeby museum will celebrate its 25th anniversary and the summer exhibition is entitled ”Åland – en juvel bland Finlands fagra bygder” (Åland – a jewel among the beautiful Finnish regions).
A children’s painting colony is organised every summer, which includes a watercolour workshop for both children and adults. The museum has a museum shop with a large range of items for sale. Advance booking is available for groups and includes coffee and a guided tour.
The southern parts and the archipelago
There are several excellent museums in attractive cultural environments around Åland that are subject to seasonal opening. In Mariehamn the “Övernässtugan”, the town’s oldest building, and the Köpmannamuseet in Tullarns Äng are worth seeing. Skeppargården Pellas recalls the epoch of the sailing ship in Lemland.
The southern archipelago has the Föglö museum and the Lotsmuseet in Degerby as well as Matmårs and Galleri Berghäll on Hummersö in Föglö. Kökar has an extensive old homestead museum that is worth a visit.
The carefully preserved old homestead farm Hermas on Enklinge totally justifies a ferry trip on the Northern line. Lappo in Brändö boasts an archipelago museum and Jurmo a boathouse museum. Vårdö has the greatest number of museums. These include the Anni Blomqvist museum, Åland School Museum, Seffers and Erkas farmstead museums, Lasse Eriksson’s ship museum, Wennströms lanthandel and Annas shop.
The main island
Geta has the Dånö homestead museum and the Kulturarvsstugan in Olofsnäs. Saltvik has Vikingabyn, Idas stuga in Borgboda and Bomärket. Kalle Glads Stuga and the Von Knorring museum are located in Finström in the middle of Åland. Ålands Fotografiska Museum is in a building at Pålsböle school. Jomala has Åland’s Emigrant Institute, Sjöbloms Emigrant- och torparmuseum, and the Shellmuseet. Hammarland is home to the Brandkårsmuseet, Gårdsmuseet in Postad and Hembygdsgården in Skarpnåtö. The Labbas homestead and bank museum are in Eckerö, as is the Hunting and Fishing Museum by the authentic bathhouses in Käringsund. The Post and Customs House puts on high quality exhibitions of both art and arts and crafts each summer.
Courses and Open Studios
The Kulturfabriken, located on Fabriksgatan in north-west Mariehamn, organises exhibitions, events and courses. The centre is run by Bild & Formskolan, Ålands Konstförening, Ålands Slöjd & Konsthantverk and Fotoklubben Obscura. You can also attend courses at Anna.ax or at Medis and Åland Folk High School. Galleri Skarpans is open all year round.
The Cultural History Museum of Åland and The Åland Islands Art Museum are located under one roof close to the Townhall of Mariehamn and the park Stadshusparken. The museums re-opened in August 2016 after a few years renovation. In the completely renewed main exhibition you can follow Åland’s story, from the first seal-hunters, who set foot on these rocky islands, to today’s global and multi-cultural society. The exhibition is divided up chronologically – prehistory, the medieval period, the era of the great powers, the 1800s and the 1900s – guiding you step by step through 7500 years of Åland’s history. The exhibition tells of both dramatic events and everyday life, of toil and festivities.
The Åland Islands Art Museum presents a broad spectrum of art on the Åland Islands from sculptures and paintings to modern video installations. In addition, the museum regularly presents special exhibits offering new impressions and influences to visitors.
Several artists open their studios in the Open Studios Art event in the autumn and also in the summertime on request. Keep an eye on the events calendar!