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Art in the Finnish forest: a day in Mänttä-Vilppula


If you’ve come to Tampere for a few days, take one of them to visit the town of Mänttä-Vilppula. It only takes an hour to get there by train, and you’re in a historic part of Finland that is rightly called the Art Town.

This is the home of the wonderful Serlachius Museums that open up the history of the Finnish paper industry and display great works of international and national contemporary art.

Gustaf Serlachius was an influential industrialist who was a patron of culture and Finnish artists. Serlachius’ nephew Gösta inherited not only his uncle’s woodworking business, but also his love of art. The Serlachius Museums include two museums: Gustaf and Gösta. A museum bus will take you there from the train station.



The first stop is the Gösta Serlachius Contemporary Art Museum. Its new 5,700 sq. m pavilion opened in the summer of 2014, and immediately set a course for international contemporary art. In the old pavilion, you can see one of the finest private collections in Northern Europe — the Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation — that is the basis of the exhibits. The museum restaurant in the new pavilion will delight you with its chef’s imagination, design and reasonable prices for such fine dishes.



It’s worth starting your tour of the large and spacious Gustaf Museum with the audiovisual exhibition The Paper Devil, which reveals all the history and drama of the Serlachius enterprises. Since Serlachius was a pharmacist at the start of his career, the Gustaf building also hosts an old drugstore, where you can touch everything and even write your own prescription. There’s entertainment for the whole family — choose your props from the pharmacist’s outfits and get a formal photo with an old camera. The photo is printed free when you leave the museum.


The cost of a ticket also includes the use of a bicycle: it’s handy for getting from Gösta to Gustaf and seeing the charming town with its walls, forests and old church.

Along with the variety of museums, in summer Mänttä also hosts the Mäntän Kuvataideviikot Art Weeks, the Vilppulankoski Jazz Festival, the Mäntän Urkuviikko Organ Music Week and the Mäntän Musiikkijuhlat Music Festival.