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The Martti Airio collection

Mikkeli Art Museum - The Martti Airio collection



Martti Airio, MA, was born in Turku on 30.10.1890. After completing his studies, he worked as a Finnish teacher at the Swedish mixed secondary school in Helsinki from 1918 to 1955.

Throughout his life, Martti Airio was interested in the visual arts, old furniture and oriental carpets. He was a frequent visitor at exhibitions in the capital. Martti Airio began collecting art in the 1920s and continued his hobby independently and purposefully over a 40-year period. The main body of the collection consists of works by Finnish Impressionists, members of the so-called September Group, and by Finnish Expressionists or the so-called November Group. In his furniture purchases, Martti Airio concentrated on two styles: the Gustavian and rococo. Most of the furniture is of Swedish make. The 17 oriental carpets in the collection were made before 1950.

Photo: Timo Kilpeläinen


Various factors led Martti Airio to bequeath his collection to the city of Mikkeli. Firstly, he wanted there to be a representative collection of early 20th-century Finnish art outside the art centres of the south. Secondly, Mikkeli promised to preserve the 'art home' as an integrated whole in accordance with Airio's wish.


Magnus Enckell, Fantasy, 1895
Photo: Arto Hämäläinen

Martti Airio died aged 83 in Helsinki in 1973. The collection was transferred to Mikkeli in accordance with the testament. The art home was opened following the renovation and enlargement of the exhibition rooms on 16.1.1976 in Mikkeli Art Museum in the Granite House.


Fanny Churberg, Old birch, 1874
Photo: Arto Hämäläinen


Helene Schjerfbeck, Seamstress, 1926
Photo: Timo Kilpeläinen