The Särestöniemi Museum consists of a 19th century farm and three buildings designed by Raili and Reima Pietilä. The Old Särestö, founded in 1873, is one of the few farm houses in Lapland that remained intact during World War II. It was a childhood home of visual artist Reidar Särestöniemi (1925–1981), who returned there after studying in Helsinki and Leningrad. Särestöniemi became known for his colourful paintings, which were inspired by Arctic nature.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Reidar Särestöniemi was one of the most successful visual artists in Finland. The success allowed him to construct two new buildings on the site. The gallery, completed in 1972, was used as an exhibition and entertainment space, where Särestöniemi received his friends and clients, e.g. President Urho Kekkonen. Särestöniemi was actively involved in the design and construction process. The flat-roofed log structure was inspired by loggers’ cabins and Karelian log houses. The most characteristic features are unhewn logs, which were cut in different lengths at the corners, and stairs and fireplaces built of slates. On the other hand, sauna and swimming pool on the first floor brought splendour to the wilderness. The atelier, completed in 1978, represents more traditional log architecture.
In 1985, after the death of Särestöniemi, the farm became a museum dedicated to his work. Three years later, the Pietilä couple designed a small activity centre with office, cafe, museum shop and storages. The museum building was completed in 1988. All the buildings have been repaired step by step since 2002.
Text: Kristo Vesikansa