Back to articles
The renovated Didrichsen Art Museum is flourishing in Revell's architecture
The Didrichsen Art Museum in Helsinki has turned a new leaf. After repair and alteration works the museum reopened with an Edvard Munch exhibition. Paula Holmila writes about the renovated museum in the newest Finnish Architectural Review 6/2014.
A Thriving Private MuseumPaula HolmilaThe Didrichsen Art Museum has reopened after extensive refurbishment that aimed to make the museum more functional without interfering with Viljo Revell’s architecture. Completed in 1957, the building was originally the home of Marie-Loise and Gunnar Didrichsen and their four children. Viljo Revell (1910–1964) finished the design of the extension, the museum wing just before his death and he never saw it complete – just like he never saw the Toronto Town Hall. Since 1993, the entire building has served as a museum, still cherished and managed by the Didrichsen family.
Revell's architecture gives space to art. It is subtle enough for showcasing art of any period.Maria Didrichsen, Chief Curator of the museum, says she admires the restrained and timeless quality of Revell’s architecture. "It gives space to art. It is subtle enough for showcasing art of any period." In 2010, a thorough condition survey was carried out in the building and it became apparent that a renovation should not be postponed. "We always thought that the quality of building in the 1950s would be high and sustainable, but, unfortunately, we discovered that corners had been cut in, for example, roof insulation."[caption id="attachment_1800" align="aligncenter" width="618"] The lounge and library area remind of the original private house of the Didrichsens. Photo source: Didrichsen Art Museum.[/caption]It was decided that also some functional changes would be carried out, which we regarded important as well. The former caretaker’s dwelling was converted into a museum shop with access from the entrance, and the arrangement also provided a solution for adding a lift, disabled toilet and other accessibility features. Downstairs, the spaces that were originally Marie-Loise Didrichsen’s bedroom and a small living room, were combined and converted into a meeting room, which the museum previously lacked. The architect commissioned to oversee the drafting stage was Tuula Revell, daughter of Viljo Revell. "We felt that she would have a better insight into her father’s intentions than anyone else," Maria Didrichsen says. The project was then finalised by architect Kari Leppänen.