Villa Gyllenberg: A must-visit Helsinki home museum for cultural heritage and fine art
By Ester Laiho
A 30-minute drive from central Helsinki is the picturesque island of Kuusisaari. Here, you’ll find Villa Gyllenberg – a home museum filled with art and history, and surrounded by gardens and a sea view.
Villa Gyllenberg is the former residence of couple Signe and Ane Gyllenberg. They had a profound appreciation of art, and made arrangements before their passing to ensure that their collection could be enjoyed by as many people as possible.
The Villa was built in 1938 but was expanded with a new dining room in 1955, and an art gallery wing in the 1970s. The couple passed away in 1977 and the museum was opened to the public in 1980.
Among other artists, The Gyllenbergs had amassed an extensive collection of Helene Schjerfbeck’s works: a total of 39 pieces, most of which are on permanent display.
The art collection is displayed in the home museum. The two enjoy a symbiotic relationship: the art enhances the beauty of the home, while the home environment adds to the artefacts. When you visit Villa Gyllenberg, you’re not only entering someone’s home, but stepping back in time – a unique experience in itself.
Chief curator Lotta Nylund has made a career of working in home museums in Finland and Stockholm, and feels she’s found her niche. “I love that feeling of entering a home museum. It is always so unique and you feel like you’re travelling back in time. This is the feeling I hope all visitors to Villa Gyllenberg will experience,” she says.
Villa Gyllenberg hosts events all year round, ranging from calligraphy workshops to concerts. This Christmas will be a particularly immersive time to visit: there’ll be live music, and the drawing and living rooms have been decorated according to pictures from old Gyllenberg family albums for an even more authentic experience. The Christmas tree is adorned with glass baubles and the dining room table is set with festive French Limoges porcelain.
The home museum will keep you busy for an entire afternoon, while the sea-facing café will keep you fed. And there’s more art nearby: the beautiful Didrichsen Art Museum is just a five-minute walk away.
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