The collections of the Finnish Museum of Photography include more than two million photographs. Photographs are produced and used in countless ways. The museum's collections reflect this diversity. The collections include approximately 10,000 photographic works of art. In addition to photographic art, many other uses of photography are represented. The collections include magazine photographs, advertising photographs, fashion photographs, documentary photographs, portraits, album photographs, architectural photographs, landscape photographs and nature photographs. The museum's collection of objects includes thousands of photography-related artefacts. The museum also has a paper archive and a photographic library.
The collections of the Finnish Museum of Photography include more than two million photographs. Photographs are produced and used in countless ways. The museum's photography collection reflects this diversity. In addition to photographic art, many other uses of photography are represented. The collections include magazine photographs, advertising photographs, fashion photographs, documentary photographs, portraits, album photographs, architectural photographs, landscape photographs and nature photographs.
Cultural-historical photography in the collections
Much of the museum's photography collection consists of materials representing the various uses of photography. The oldest photographs in the collection are unique daguerreotypes. The focus of the collection, however, is on 20th-century Finnish photography. The collection includes both individual photographs and larger bodies of materials. Quantitatively, most of the images in the collection are original negatives.
Photographic art in the collections
The collection of Finnish photographic art includes works by hundreds of photographers, with a total of approximately 10,000 exhibited and published photographs. The Finnish artists featured in the collection include Caj Bremer, Stefan Bremer, Elina Brotherus, Heinrich Iffland, Jan Kaila, Kalle Kultala, Jouko Lehtola, Tuija Lindström, Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Aarne Pietinen, Otso Pietinen, Jorma Puranen, Hannele Rantala, Matti Saanio, Vilho Setälä and Pekka Turunen. Works are added to the museum's collection through acquisitions at a moderate pace every year.
In 2015, the Finnish Museum of Photography started a collaboration with Co-operative Tradeka to support Finnish photography. According to the cooperation agreement between the Tradeka foundation and the Finnish Museum of Photography, the museum uses funding from Tradeka to acquire works by young or emerging Finnish photographic artists. The acquired photographs are added as part of a special Tradeka collection that has been established at the museum. Co-operative Tradeka and the Finnish Museum of Photography have agreed on a three-year collaboration, and Tradeka has awarded a grant of €30,000 to the project. The museum has the responsibility for building up the Tradeka collection and exhibiting the works acquired for the collection.
International artists in the photography collection
The museum's preservation activities mainly focus on the work of Finnish photographers, or those who have worked in Finland. The museum's collection of photographs by international artists includes approximately 300 works by 120 photographers. The international artists featured in the collection include Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Mexico; Robert Capa, USA; Lucien Clerque, France; Imogen Cunningham, USA; Bruce Davidson, USA; Walker Evans, USA; Franco Fontana, Italy; Eadweard Muybridge, USA; Jan Saudek, Czech Republic; and Edward Weston, USA.
The museum's collection of photography-related artefacts includes approximately 5,000 items. Of these, the vast majority are hobbyists' cameras. The object collection also includes laboratory equipment, studio furniture, lighting equipment, films, and other objects related to the photography culture, illustrating photography as a profession and a hobby.
The documents and cuttings archive includes paper and electronic records, cuttings, manuscripts, and photographers' and photography organisations' documents. In addition to the extensive cuttings collection, the archive holds documentary material, such as recordings, invitation cards and posters. The museum is constantly storing information and documents related to the work of Finnish photographers.
The collections of the Finnish Museum of Photography are largely built up through donations.
The Kalle Kultala collection
The press photographer Kalle Kultala (1924–1991) was one of the key documentarians of post-war Finland. He had a diverse career as a photographer, covering cocktail parties with public figures, and life in political cabinets. In 1963, Kultala became a freelance photographer and gradually specialised in covering social topics and political life. Many people know his portraits of Finnish presidents, including those of Urho Kekkonen and Mauno Koivisto.
In 1995, the Ministry of Education transferred Kultala's collection of more than 200,000 negatives and photographs to the ownership of the Finnish Museum of Photography. The Finnish Broadcasting Company, the Union Bank of Finland and United Magazines also participated in the archiving project. The archive of almost 11,000 electronic images is organised into textual databases, which enables users to search the collection of negatives.
The Kristian Runeberg collection
Runeberg is one of the most famous Finnish press photographers of all time. His photographs merge solid expertise in the use of the camera with sophisticated humour and humanism. Even with difficult topics, the photographer shows the presence of humanity.
The Hannula & Hinkka Collection
In 2012, Erja Hannula and Jorma Hinkka donated their collection of more than two hundred photographic works to the museum. At the heart of this collection are photographs by key Finnish photographic artists taken over a period of more than 30 years.
The donation is an important addition to the museum's collection of art. In addition to Finnish photographers, the Hannula & Hinkka collection includes photographs by famous international photographers, such as Édouard Boubat, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Larry Clark.
The Otava collection of early photographs
In 2015, Otava Publishing Company donated a valuable collection of 3,300 photographs from its archives to the Finnish Museum of Photography. The collection includes many photographs by classic photographers of the interwar period. In terms of the museum's collections, the donation significantly contributes towards building a fuller picture of photography in the early 20th century. The negatives used for the Suomen vapaussota kuvissa ('Finnish Civil War in Pictures') books [M4] constitute a historically significant body of material.
The photographers featured in the donated collection include Ivan Timiryazev, Harald Rosenberg, Eric Sundström, Eino Mäkinen, Sakari Pälsi, Paavo Poutiainen and Heinrich Iffland. The collection also includes photographs by the first photographer for the Suomen Kuvalehti magazine, V. Lindh, and by the photographer and non-fiction writer Vilho Setälä, who worked for Otava for a long time. The Finnish Museum of Photography is gradually digitising this donated collection for future use.
Otava has also donated a unique I.K. Inha collection from its archives to the Finnish Museum of Photography.
The Camera Club collection
In the autumn of 2016, the Camera Club [M5] donated a significant collection of original prints to the museum. The donation includes 758 photographic prints from a total of approximately 150 photographers. The material includes photographs dating from the early days of the Camera Club in the 1920s, to the turn of the millennium.
The collection features works by many leading Finnish photographers who were actively involved with the Camera Club, including Vilho Setälä, Salme Simanainen, Oiva Kallio, Eero Raviniemi, Santeri Levas, Eino Mäkinen, Seppo Saves, Pentti Sammallahti, Ismo Hölttö, Jussi Aalto, Pekka Potka, Auli Kaartinen and Eero Venhola.