Akseli Gallen-Kallela – he, who wanted to paint

You will be surprised to find this beautiful building in peaceful surroundings in Espoo so near the busy roads of Leppävaara. To get to the Akseli Gallen-Kallela museum, you will have to be prepared to walk around 1 km from the nearest bus stop or alternatively arrive by car.

Akseli Gallen-Kallela was a Finnish painter (1865-1931) who is known and loved for his paintings on the Finnish national epic, Kalevala.


My mom and I visited on a cold but beautiful winter’s day. The painter’s house, Tarvaspää, was Gallen-Kallela’s studio and home. He actually designed and built the castle-like house himself.


Gallen-Kallela travelled all over the world – Berlin, Paris, Stockholm, Copenhagen, United States, Nairobi – but felt that he was most inspired by Finland.


There is a small sauna inside the house but it’s not open for the public to see. The bigger sauna is by the water.


When we visited, there was the Silence Project exhibition the museum. It’s a Nordic modern art project studying the different concepts of silence. One part of it is the Silence Meal hosted by artist Nina Backman. There’s a special menu on offer and as everyone sits in silence, your senses will be highlighted. You can actually still take part in it in April and May if you like. The reminants of the meal were left on the table below.



I personally enjoyed the Icelandic Weather Experience project photography by Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir and Ólafur Kolbeinn Guðmundsson. The duo has taken photographs of Rebekka in a black, flowy dress (barefoot!) in all the places mentioned in the Icelandic national radio weather forecast. Of which there are 62. The project was started in 2011 and turned out to be lengthy. The pictures are mesmerizing. Note that these places are often very remote and difficult to get to, even most Icelandics have never been. Rebekka and Ólafur have gone to extremes to get to their locations – hiking for hours on end, taking fishing boats to islands, paddle kayaks, camped in freezing temperatures.. you get the drift. Unfortunately only a handful of these gorgeous photographs were on show at Tarvaspää.


A fun interactive aspect to the exhibition was a map where you could mention where you enjoy silence.


After touring the museum, it’s a good idea to have something to eat at the Villa Linudd which houses the Tarvaspää café. It used to be the Gallen-Kallela family home before the new house was ready.


The café is not only for museum visitors. The area is very popular for walks or biking as well.


In my opinion, the café is worth visiting for the view alone. Imagine watching the sun set from these windows. I absolutely love places like this – immersed in history. In winter you can get salmon soup to warm you up.


Do you have a favourite museum or museum café in Helsinki or Espoo?


22 thoughts on “Akseli Gallen-Kallela – he, who wanted to paint

  1. Täällä on pitänyt käydä vuosia! Ehkä vihdoin tänä kesänä. WeeGee on kiva museo, jonka lisäksi museokauppa sekä kahvila on ihan top! Sipoossa oleva Gumbostrand Konst & Form -museon on tosi kiva (tarjolla brunssia viikonloppuisin). 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I always love visits to your blog, the photos are beautiful, and you really capture the “awe” of visiting somewhere special with your words. Basically, visiting your blog feels like I’m taking a holiday! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Suvi! I am amazed by how beautiful everything is! I love going to a museum, especially when it’s is a pretty location like that one. I still haven’t gone to Finland, but I’ll be sure to put that one on my list. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have become an avid museum fan! I didn’t really care for museums before, so this is a fun new discovery. The area of the museum really is beautiful, I must go back as Spring progresses 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am absolutely impressed by the pictures, the place seems to be marvellous and I think 1 km of walk should not be a problem for anyone who would like to visit. Btw – when I saw your picture on Instagram today I was worried that winter came back to Finland 😀 Have a nice evening 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Adam, it really is a beautiful place 👌It did rain something that looked like snow yesterday but thankfully it turned into water by the time it hit the ground. In Northern Finland they were not so lucky! 😥 No snow at this point please! 🤗


    1. Thanks Marion! It sure is a great place, I have to plan one of my walks in the area so I get a “reason” to visit the cafe. Btw, I tried to book Skygarden for when I’m in London but there’s some maintenance going on there for the weekend so it’s not going to work out this time 🙁

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh no, what a pity about Sky Garden but I’m certain you’ll find lots more to see and do and it’s an excuse to return to London again, too. I thought it was this weekend you were going but then realised it was the next one, over May Day weekend xx

        Liked by 1 person

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