On the edge of the city, in the spirit of past industry
On the edge of the beautiful Ainola Park, within walking distance from the centre of town, the Art Museum of Oulu is situated at "Kasarmintie 7". The appreciative and innovative cultural guest will find on the journey to the art museum the Northern Ostrobothnia Museum (N.O.M.), a museum full of delightful surprises for the whole family. And across from the Art Museum, at "Nahkatehtaankatu 6", is the regionally-acclaimed science museum "Tietomaa", where especially students love to visit.
The Art Museum's old red brick section, by the architect Birger Federley (1921), represents Industrial architecture of the early 1900's. The building has been part of a larger real estate of the leather factory "Veljekset Åström Oy". In this building, its original use included being the main office headquarters, the canteen, the company officers' clubroom, and the glue factory with its drying department. In the 1950's, the factory was closed, and the building housed first the University of Oulu's Department of Botany, and later the University Library, from 1964-1987. For a long time, the southern end of the building was the Coffee and Tea Company Paulig's sales base for Oulu. And even today, many medical doctors wistfully remember the Medical Guild's "festival hall" which was situated at the building's current arcade.
When the University Library received space at the Linnanmaa Campus, this culturally historical building became empty. On November 10th, 1986, after 10 years of debate, the Oulu City Art Museum received the solution to their problem of needing more space. On that day, City Council decided to renovate the Åstrom building for use as an art museum.
The Oulu City carried out this radical renovation project during the years 1988-1990, and the outcome is an architectural Post-Modern creation which unites the old, massive, industrial edifice with the new, light section. The result is an interesting, all-encompassing environmental dialogue. This transformation was created by the architectural company "Jorma Teppo Ky" from Oulu.
The total area of the museum is 3400 square meters, of which the exhibition areas are slightly over 1200 square meters. According to the International Council of Museums, ICOM, the proportion of exhibition space to the rest of the museum should be 1:2. This recommendation would have been fulfilled if the neighboring building across the street had been allotted to the museum for working and storage space. This idea was part of the original plan for the renovation of the Art Museum. Currently, this idea has been "shelved" due to lack of funding, and all that physically remains today of the idea is the beginning of the glass walkway, which would have connected these two buildings so that transporting works from exhibition to storage would be safe as well as protected from a drastic change of temperature.