Finnish Lapland is a largely unknown oasis of great art, from traditional crafts of the indigenous Sami people to modern masterpieces from all over the world. These are some of the best places in Lapland to take in all of this amazing art.
This resort near Ivalo turns into a living art museum every summer during Arctic Art Week. Sculptures travel to the resort from all over the world to take part in a wood sculpting contest and create stunning works of art inspired by Arctic nature. These sculptures become part of the resort’s permanent collection to be seen all year round across the resort and in the art gallery.
The Arktikum Museum in Rovaniemi focuses mostly on Arctic science and nature, but it also hosts regular art exhibits displaying various aspects of Arctic culture. The current art exhibit is ‘A Light in the Darkness’ – a collection of aurora photography by Risto Leskinen, the Northern Light Photographer of the Year 2017.
The snow hotel is constructed from snow and ice in Kemi every winter and looks like it came straight out of a fairy tale. The castle is open to non-hotel residents for an entrance fee. They can look around at the collection of ice sculptures constructed by artisans and lit up with colourful lights every winter to meet the year’s theme. The castle itself is also an artistic marvel and any art lover will love walking around to take it all in. There are even introductory workshops for the art of ice carving taught by professionals.
Rovaniemi’s central art museum, part of the Korundi House of Culture, focuses mostly on contemporary art from Finland, and especially from Lapland. Works by artists from or living in Lapland are held in the museum’s collection, many of which demonstrate traditional life in Lapland. These include prints by Aukusti Tuhka, photographs by Matti Saanio, and paintings by Maria Lagorio.
Lapland is a literal gold mine of rare gems and minerals, and you can see a huge collection of them at the Kemi Gemstone Gallery. Highlights of the collection include a replica of what would have been the crown of the King of Finland, a replica of the Imperial State Crown of Great Britain, and a necklace made with 647 diamonds for Marie Antoinette.
The beauty of Lapland makes it one of the best places in the world for nature photography. The Hannu Hautala centre in Kuusamo is Finland’s first museum for nature photography and is named after the country’s most famous nature photographer. As well as Hautala’s photos, works by Finnish and international photographers are displayed at the centre while the Kids’ Den area provides an interactive play space for small children.
This museum pays tribute to Reidar Särestöniemi, one of Finland’s most famous artists, and is partially built into the 19th century farmhouse where he lived and worked for most of his life. Against the timber walls, his colourful modernist artworks are displayed, inspired by the nature of Lapland, local prehistoric cave paintings, and the Russian art he saw during his studies in Leningrad. Exhibits of other contemporary Finnish artists and classical music concerts are also regularly hosted at the museum.
The cultural centre for the Finnish Sami in Inari is also Finland’s Sami art museum. Siida holds a huge archive of photos showing life for the Lappish Sami from the 19th century to the modern day as well as traditional handicrafts, video exhibits, and works by contemporary Sami artists that serve as an introduction to the indigenous people of Lapland.