The Tampere Art Society
"Some years ago there were rumours about founding an art society in Tampere. Is it not about time to realize these thoughts?" This question was asked by J.J. Tikkanen, the secretary of the Art Society of Finland, in his art review in the newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet on the 16th of January 1898. Vyborg and Turku already had their own societies.
The question was answered by the newspaper Tammerfors Nyheter by appealing to the people of Tampere about the necessity of the enterprise. Soon they were having a meeting, founding a committee, making proposals for the rules and collecting members. The founding meeting was held on the 28th of March 1898.
Arousing an interest in art became the most important task for the Society. Tampere being an industrializing city, the society wanted to promote cultural values as well. A new generation who would appreciate art needed to be raised. An equally ambitious task was to found an art collection and develop it. The most important and the most visual form of activity was the organizing of annual exhibitions.
The biggest step forward in the activities of the Society was the founding of the Häme Museum in the Näsilinna Mansion. Gabriel Engberg, who was also one of the founding members of the Society, became the director of the museum. Along with the new art centre and the accumulation of the collections, Tampere got a permanent exhibition in 1910.
During the Civil War, some of the Society's art works and property of the museum were destroyed. The activities of the Society stagnated and the financial position deteriorated. The founding of the Tampere Artist's Association in 1920 was partly the reason for the slowing down of the Society's activities.
The most important project in the history of the Art Society was to realize the museum plan. The museum opened in a former granary designed by C.L. Engel in 1931. The conversion was designed by Hilja Gestrin. From then on, the Tampere Art Museum and the Tampere Art Society had a mutual history. The renovation and extension work, designed by architect Antti Ilveskoski, was carried out during 1982-84. The following year, the museum and its art collection were taken over by the City of Tampere.
In 1979 a committee, under the direction of the Society, was started in order to commission studies on Tampere artists. Three parts in the series "Art and Artists from Tampere" have been published, monographies of the artists Reijo Viirilä, Lennu Juvela and Gabriel Engberg.
The present activities of the Society are partly based on the old tradition, the most visible form of which is art education. The total number of members is about 500, consisting both of individuals and corporations.
The Society's Activities
The Tampere Art Society
Tampere Art Museum