The Hiekka Art Museum has been named after its founder Kustaa Hiekka, a highly esteemed goldsmith in the Finnish jewellery industry.
Kustaa Hiekka was born in 1855 in Laitila, where he spent his childhood. He left Laitila at the age of fourteen to serve his apprenticeship at the workshop of Holm, a goldsmith in Uusikaupunki. He took his apprentice's examination in 1875 and his mastership examination a few years later in 1878.
Kustaa Hiekka opened his first jewellery shop in Pori in 1878, but only a year later he moved to Tampere, where he settled down and lived until his death in 1937. In 1879 he married Henrika Karolina Arenius, a goldsmith's widow. Their childless marriage lasted until 1919.
The Finnish Goldsmiths' Company
Kustaa Hiekka had a thriving business in Tampere. He understood that industrialization would transform the entire jewellery trade, so he decided to expand his business and founded the Finnish Goldsmiths' Company (Suomen Kultaseppä Oy) in collaboration with two other jewellers. Production facilities and the company headquarters were located in Turku and branch businesses were established in Tampere and Helsinki. Kustaa Hiekka can thus be regarded as the founder of the Finnish precious metals industry. Hiekka was also active in other spheres of life: he was, among others, a founder of the Häme Museum and a member of the Tampere City Council for 32 years.
Founding the Museum
Kustaa Hiekka was an avid collector of art. His interest in art extended beyond the traditional forms of visual art, painting and sculpture, and thus, he also collected antique furniture, coins, silver, tin and glass objects as well as articles of ethnographic value. Travelling was another of his passions: he made over 40 trips abroad between 1875 and 1936, including a trip around the world (1907 - 08), which he took with his close friend Evert Tähkäpää. Kustaa Hiekka found the world extremely interesting, spacious and beautiful, and he was eager to learn to know it. He always had a suitcase packed ready for his trips.
In the 1920's Kustaa Hiekka started to make plans for his own museum, as he wanted his extensive art collection to remain intact. To this end, he had a separate museum building erected on the site he had acquired as early as in the 1880's. The building was designed by architect Oiva Viljanen in the Classical style, and it was completed in 1928. The building became Kustaa Hiekka's home, and he lived there until his death.
The Kustaa Hiekka Foundation was established in 1931 to maintain the Hiekka Art Museum, which opened its doors to the public during the same year. After Kustaa Hiekka died, Evert Tähkäpää, his personal friend and the chairperson of the Kustaa Hiekka Foundation, donated his own art collection to the museum.
The Art Collection
The collection consists of almost 400 pieces of art, mainly Finnish art from the 1850's until today. The Biedermeyer period is represented by the works of Ferdinand von Wright, and the era of romantic landscapes by paintings of Berndt Lindholm and Hjalmar Munsterhjelm. The works of Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Albert Edelfelt, Eero Järnefelt, Pekka Halonen and Hugo Simberg, on the other hand, represent the so-called golden period of Finnish art.
A more internationalist viewpoint of the early 20th century is reflected in the works of Magnus Enckell, Yrjö Ollila, Mikko Oinonen, Tyko Sallinen and Ilmari Aalto, all of whom used a brighter palette. Local flavor is added to the collection by works of various artists from Tampere, such as Gabriel Engberg, Kaarlo Vuori, Lennu Juvela, Tauno Hämeranta, Kauko Salmi and Marra Lampi.