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Onerva - Women of the City
25.03.2010 - 29.08.2010


The exhibition focuses on the cultural life of young women in 1910s Helsinki through the eyes of writer and critic L. Onerva (1882–1972). She studied art history at university, lived on her own, enjoyed the cultural scene of the city, had an active social life, got married, ran away, got divorced, and had a secret affair. She made her living and supported her writer's career by teaching and translating, and above all by journalism and art reviews.

In this exhibition, Onerva introduces us to her Helsinki: art galleries, theatre premieres, films, cafés, restaurants, concerts, and other social events. She also reveals the flipside of an independent life: debts, limits to her freedom, and moral judgement.

The exhibition features plenty of art from the era, from Ateneum's own collections as well as other museums. Pioneers of early Finnish modernism, such as Helene Schjerfbeck, Sulho Sipilä and Yrjö Ollila, depicted modern man and the urban culture of the time.

The curator of the exhibition is PhD Anna Kortelainen. She has also written and narrated an audio guide for the exhibition.