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Marginal refers to something that in relation to the mainstream is hidden, lacks a position of power, and is situated in opposition to and on the outside of mainstream. Marginal art is represented by many subcultures, but also creativity that deviates from prevailing norms. Art historically, arts that emerge from the margins of the art world include several art genres such as outsider art, art brut, naive art, art singulier and contemporary folk art or ITE art.

It is not a coherent or unisonous phenomenon, because the artists and works included in marginal art are united only by the fact that they do not conform to the mainstream culture or the norms of art. The ways of expressing and understanding art, and what is considered marginal, will change with time and place. It is not just a modern phenomenon, the earliest phenomena which falls within these styles of art were recognized in the early 20th century.

The K.H.Renlund Museum has accepted extensive collections of marginal art from Central Europe, and is thus profiled as the only museum permanently exhibiting marginal art and considered, from a collection standpoint, as the most important player in the field in Fennoscandia. The donated collections include different styles of marginal art, collected by Maija and Volker Dallmeier, Elke and Werner Zimmer, and Dietz Mertin. The collections include works in i.a. naive art, outsider art and contemporary folk art.


Main picture: Miguel Rivera Bagur, In the Park, undated, gouache on paper, 51 cm x 65 cm, Donation Elke and Werner Zimmer, K.H.Renlund Museum

  • The Dallmeier collection is a valuable private collection of naive and outsider art accumulated by Maija and Volker Dallmeier. The couple residing in Hanover started their collection in 1969. In 2005, the Dallmeiers donated their collection to the municipality of Kaustinen. The collection is deposited at K.H.Renlund Museum.

    The donated collection consists of about 200 works of art by 57 artists from a total of 17 countries, and an extensive book collection. The works include paintings and small sculptures. Artists, whose works are represented in the collection, are e.g. André Bauchant, Enrico Benassi, Erich Bödeker, Emerik Feješ, Katarzyna Gawłowa, Nikifor, Hector Trotin, Josef Wittlich and Anna Zemánková. Finnish artists represented in the collection are Håkan Brunberg and Enni Id. In 2013, the Dallmeiers donated about a hundred Polish religious wooden sculptures to the ITE art collection of the Association for Rural Culture and Education.

    A book about the collection was published in 2016 (Elämää taiteen parissa – Maija ja Volker Dallmeierin naiivin taiteen kokoelma). The book’s publisher is the municipality of Kaustinen and the book can be bought from the Folk Art Centre in Kaustinen and the museum shop at the K.H.Renlund Museum in Kokkola.

  • In 2023, German collector of marginal art, Dietz Mertin, donated his art collection, as well as a book collection that completes it, to the K.H.Renlund Museum. The art collection consists of a total of about 500 works of naive, outsider and ethnic art. It also includes historic religious art. The most part of the collection is naive paintings and drawings by classic artists in marginal art. The collection has also about a hundred small wooden sculptures and a few stone sculptures. The works are by artists such as Enrico Benassi, Tim Brown, Ilija Bašičević, Nikifor, Anna Ličková and Natalie Schmidtová.

    The Mertin collection will further strengthen K.H.Renlund Museum’s marginal art profile by complementing it with works by key artist in naive and outsider art, and enriching it with new elements, such as ethnic and religious folk art.


  • In 2020, the Nordic Art School Foundation in Kokkola was donated a significant collection of international naive and outsider art by gallery owners Werner and Elke Zimmer from Düsseldorf. The collection is deposited at K.H.Renlund Museum.

    The donation consists of about 300 works, mainly paintings. The collection represents Central European classics of naive and outsider art by e.g. Erich Bödeker, Minna Ennulat, Max Raffler and Josef Wittlich. A substantial part of the donated works is by East European artists: Ivan Generalić, Franjo Klopotan, Nikifor, Ivan Rabuzin and Ondrej Šteberl.

    There is a connection between the collections: Both the Zimmers and the Dallmeiers started collecting around the same time in the late 1960s, and thus, got to know each other. In 1982, Maija and Volker Dallmeier founded a society called Erich-Bödeker-Gesellschaft für naive Kunst, named after Erich Bödeker, a prominent self-taught sculptor from Germany. Several German collectors joined the association, including the Zimmers. The society maintains knowledge about naive art and naive artists.


  • Supported art activities are visual art activities for individuals who need additional support. It is assisted arts activities in various techniques, including media art, and led by art professionals. The objective of the K.H.Renlund Museum is to provide equal opportunities for visual arts-oriented disabled people and people who need additional support to take part of art activities in Kokkola and Central Ostrobothnia.

    In 2013–2015, the K.H.Renlund Museum organized workshops in cooperation with Keski-Pohjanmaan opisto and the Kokkola-based activity centers Duuni and Kompassi. At the same time, the project increased public awareness of and discussions related to supported art activities. The projects were funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Arts Promotion Centre Finland.

    After the projects, the Museum has continued to establish the role of supported art activities in Kokkola by cooperating with Kettuki, the Finnish advocate for equality in arts, and incorporating art by artists who need additional support in its exhibition program.