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Veikko Salkio is holding a sign of Strict Nature Reserve of Pummanki in the front of Kieppi in the beginning of 2000's.

About the museum

The purpose of Veikko Salkio’s life’s work was to promote nature conservation and environmental education. Kieppi continues the work of its founder by spreading environmental knowledge through the hundreds of specimens in the collection.

Salkio wanted to donate his collection to all interested in nature and animals. Future generations should have the chance to experience the variety of nature: “My aim is that the collection is still on display in the year 4999.” The City of Kokkola enabled the development of the nature history collection and still finds it important.

The name of the Kieppi natural history collection was changed in 2012 into its current form: Kieppi, Kokkola Museum of Natural History. Here you will find more information about the different stages of the natural history collection and about how the other collections ended up in Kieppi.

Stages of the natural history collection

Veikko Salkio’s Natural History Collection is an extensive entity of scientific samples and specimens, created as a result of Veikko Salkio’s (1912–2006) life’s work. When Salkio arrived in Kokkola in 1980, he donated his collection to the City of Kokkola. The city enabled him to continue complementing the collection, and that is what Veikko did for the rest of his lifetime.

Aiming for a natural history museum

Taxidermy was a hobby of Salkio’s throughout his life. According to Salkio, he was just a child when he first got the idea to start a natural history museum. By the end of 1930s, Salkio had assembled a substantial collection of northern animal specimens in Petsamo. However, due to the Winter War, Salkio was forced to leave his first collection in Petsamo, where it was most likely destroyed.

Salkio explored thoroughly the natural history museums and private collections found in Finland. In 1966, Nature Conservation Supervisor Antti Haapanen authorised Salkio to take and stuff protected animals that died an accidental death, under the condition that the animals would one day be placed in a museum.

By the autumn of 1970, Salkio had collected enough samples to build a museum around them. The project progressed slowly, but finally in 1976 Salkio sold his collection to the City of Rovaniemi. However, Salkio and the City of Rovaniemi could not reach an understanding on how to manage and develop the collection, and their collaboration ended. Salkio’s second collection remained under the ownership of the City of Rovaniemi, and today, parts of it are still on display in the science centre and museum Arktikum.

Salkio arrives in Kokkola

By the year 1979, Salkio had collected approximately 150 new vertebrate specimens and a few dozen horns and antlers. According to Salkio, he had studied a map of Finland and realised that, in terms of geography, Kokkola was perfectly located in the middle of the country. Moreover, there were no other natural history museums nearby. Salkio’s offer to hand over his natural history collection to the City of Kokkola was taken seriously. In the autumn of 1979, the Kokkola City Board decided to accept Salkio’s natural history collection, in addition to which the city granted Salkio a workroom he had requested for the purpose of complementing and maintaining his collection.

Veikko Salkio’s Natural History Collection was opened on 13 January 1982. It became obvious very early on that the exhibition cases and the facilities reserved in the salt storehouse were not enough to display the collection appropriately, nor to accommodate the visits of large school groups. Natural History Collection moved out of the confined rooms of the salt storehouse into the wide open spaces of Hagström in 1989. However, the rental facilities at Hagström were not a permanent solution for the museum. In 2000, Kieppi moved to its current location in the Museum Quarter, and the natural history collection and mineral collection both found a new home under the same roof.

Continuing and developing the museum operations

After Salkio passed away (in 2006), the task of maintaining his collection was given to Curator Paula Hyttinen, who had been involved in the development of Kieppi since the very beginning. She was familiar with Salkio’s mindset and took on the long-term development of the operations of Kieppi basing her work on Salkio’s ideals of promoting nature conservation and environmental education. The result was the creation of Kieppi’s interdisciplinary and artistic workshops, which are focused on knowledge, experiences, understanding and independent doing. Even today, natural and environmental education and free access to the scientific data included in the collections remain the foundation for all Kieppi operations.

In the early hours of 29 January 2019, Kieppi’s exhibitions and public activities were disrupted due to a fire. The fire, and the amount of water used to extinguish it, caused massive damage to the museum’s log building from 1823. Although much of the materials stored in the office and storage spaces in the wooden building were saved, the museum still lost over 400 of Salkio’s samples. The modern part of the museum building was filled with soot and smoke, but the displayed collections survived with only minor damages.

At the moment, Kieppi’s collections and personnel are placed in temporary facilities. The renovation of the museum building is currently underway, and the reconstruction of the exhibitions will start as soon as the work is finished.

History of the mineral collection

Viljo Nissinen’s Mineral Collection became the property of the City of Kokkola in 1984. The collection was initially placed in the Kokkola city hall. After the new museum facilities were built in Kokkola, the mineral collection was made a part of Kieppi in 2000 and designated its own exhibition space.

Viljo Nissinen obtained the majority of the samples in his collection during the 1970–1990s. He purchased most of the samples from mineral trade fairs and from the most esteemed operators of his time. Nissinen received some of the samples from different Finnish mines and the Geological Museum of the University of Helsinki, whereas some he has traded for other samples or found himself. Back then, the head of the Geological Museum of the University of Helsinki was “rock doctor” Martti Lehtinen, who has studied many of Nissinen’s mineral samples with an x-ray diffractogram and verified their rare nature.

Later on, Arto Kaustinen and the Geological Survey of Finland have contributed to expanding the collection of Finnish minerals, and especially gems and precious stones. In addition, Professor Emeritus Lauri Pesonen has donated impact stones and meteorites from all over the world to Kieppi.

Nissinen stands beside mineral showcases.
Viljo Nissinen in Kokkola city hall.

History of the Lepidoptera collection

Armas Järvelä was born in Kaustinen, and his estate wanted to donate his collection somewhere close to his roots. The City of Kokkola received Armas Järvelä’s Lepidoptera Collection in 2003. The collection was initially placed in a research room at the K.H. Renlund Museum. In 2008, the collection was moved to Kieppi, where it is maintained as a separate, consistent collection.

Järvelä created his butterfly and moth collection mainly in the 1960–1980s. Armas collected most of the specimens himself, but he also traded samples with other collectors (such as A. Kullberg, J. Airisto, K. Helomaa and M. Aronen). Järvelä lived in Kontula, Helsinki, and the majority of the samples also come from the Uusimaa Region. However, he made several trips to Lapland and other parts of Finland in order to make his collection as extensive as possible. In addition, Armas Järvelä, as many other skilled Lepidoptera enthusiasts, raised rare butterflies and moths from caterpillars.

The collection also includes some foreign lepidopteran species mainly from southern and central Europe and Asia. Järvelä also had a few boxes filled with other insects entirely, such as dragonflies and beetles.

Järvelä is holding a box of Lepidopteran.
Armas Järvelä in the summer 1980. Photo: Matti Ahola.