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Tawny owl peeking from it´s tree hollow in Veikko Salkio´s Natural History Collection.

Natural History Collection

Veikko Salkio´s (1912–2006) Natural History Collection is a nationally valuable natural science collection. The cohesive collection entity is the result of Veikko Salkio’s life’s work and consists of the following categories: Finnish mammals and birds, horns, skulls and bones, traditional hunting culture, fossils, foreign specimens, as well as literature and the archive. Veikko Salkio used to build small huts out of turf and wood in the Lappish nature, calling them Kieppi huts. In Finnish, Kieppi is also a small hole in snow that galliform bird species overnight in.

  • In the Veikko Salkio Natural History Collection, each animal is placed in their own ecological niche as a part of nature. By studying them, you can make various observations about the natural habitat, diet and breeding of the animals. The collection consists of almost all Finnish mammals and about 220 different bird species. Many bird species have a female and male as well as a chick and an adult bird on display in the collection to distinguish their differences. Variations in colour, crossbreeds and deformations are shown as their own category.

    Eurasian lynx in Veikko Salkio´s Natural History Collection.
    Eurasian lynx. Photo: Joni Virtanen.
  • The vast collection of antlers and skulls of mammals belonging to the deer and bovid families were especially dear to Veikko Salkio. He was interested in deformities, defects and other anomalies. Deer and bovid belong to the family of even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla). The Deer (Cervidae) family includes over 40 different species and Kieppi has the antlers of 18 species. The Bovid (Bovidae) family includes over 140 different species – Kieppi displays the antlers of 28 different species.

    Bovidae skulls in Veikko Salkio´s Natural History Collection.
    The bovid pillars. Photo: Joni Virtanen.
  • Kieppi has also a wide collection of skulls and bones from other mammals as well as sternums of different birds. They indicate the age, species, size and, in some cases, the sex of the animal. Some specimens show signs of illnesses or injuries. The collection includes, for example, the sternum of a sea eagle that has been fractured due to a collision, and a deformed and healthy spine of a mink.

    The skulls of Finnish mammals in Veikko Salkio´s Natural History Collection.
    The wolf’s skull.
  • While spending time in Pummanki, Veikko Salkio documented different fishing techniques used in the Arctic Ocean by drawing and taking pictures. Later he acquired a trapping gear collection including, for example, old fishnet markers, weights and fish spears. The hunting gear collection includes many cruel trapping devices that are forbidden today, such as foothold traps and fox boards.

    Trapping gears in Veikko Salkio´s Natural History Collection. A net and net floats in the front.
    Trapping gears. Photo: Joni Virtanen.
  • Salkio´s miniature dioramas includes many bird nests and eggs. In addition people have donated many bird eggs to Kieppi, some of these are presented in their own glass cabinet. Bird eggs and nests are identified by biologist Harri Hongell.

    Bird eggs in two cardboard boxes in Kieppi´s Collection.
    Bird eggs. Photo: Joni Virtanen.
  • Even though Kieppi features mostly Finnish animals, it is also possible to get a brief glimpse of, for example, the endless diversity of deep-sea species. The most notable fish species in the collection is probably the round and pointy oddball of the marine world, the porcupinefish. Species such as the spectacled cobra, tarantula and scorpion represent poisonous terrestrial animals.

    Marine species in Veikko Salkio´s Natural History Collection.
    Giant acorn barnacles, snails and bivalve.
  • Veikko Salkio’s fossil collection started to expand in the early 1980s due to his excursions to Svalbard. In addition, Finnish-Canadian Ray Rinta started sending Salkio specimens from his travels to all the continents. In the collection, the fossil findings of Orthoceras species, the vertebras of dinosaurs and the teeth of a mammoth demonstrate the history and evolution on our planet (Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras).

    Fossil specimens in Veikko Salkio´s Natural History Collection.
    Ammonites and nautiloid from the Jurassic period (200–145 million years ago).
  • In addition to his collection of natural specimens, Veikko Salkio also left behind an extensive assortment of literature about nature and the environment. The most valuable items are the outdoor literature classics by A. E. Järvinen and the textbooks on zoology and natural sciences by K. E. Kivirikko. Salkio’s archive also includes documents owned by Kieppi, newspaper clippings, magazines, photographs, video and voice recordings, Salkio’s correspondence as well as other assorted materials.

    Five old nature books.
    Literature collected by Veikko Salkio.

Veikko Salkio

Even as a child, Veikko Salkio (1912–2006) was very interested in nature. “I’ve been fascinated by all animals as long as I can remember, just like any other child. The only difference is that I have stayed on a child’s level even to this day. When I also happen to have an innate primitive instinct to collect, the result can be seen in these glass cabinets.“

Veikko Salkio had worked as a ranger on nature reserves, and the purpose of his life’s work was to promote nature conservation and environmental education. Taxidermy was his lifelong hobby that resulted in three collections. The first one had to be left in Petsamo, the second one in Rovaniemi and the third and last one was opened to public in Kokkola in 1982.

Veikko Salkio found the art of taxidermy fascinating. Each new species was a challenge. Some parts of the work were especially challenging, such as pulling the scalp to the sheath. Seija Jakobsson, one of Veikko’s pupils, told that Veikko once stated, after a successful job: “Sailing became considerably easier when we’d once sailed around Cape Horn.” After this, the most fascinating part of the taxidermy work began: fine-tuning the specimen.

Veikko Salkio’s fossil collection started to grow significantly in the early 1980s due to his excursions to Svalbard. In 1982 he wrote: “We returned to our campsite with our backpacks filled with our findings. The most interesting findings were the leaf imprints of hardwood species that existed some twenty million years ago, where even the smallest petioles could be made out in the stone.“ 

After the mid-1980s, the collection grew again with fossil specimens, horns and skulls from all around the world, when Finnish-Canadian Ray Rinta (1925–2011) started helping Veikko with the collection. Opening the packages from Ray was always a big occasion. Veikko visited Ray and his family a few times, and Ray drove him widely across Canada and the U.S. in his caravan to visit, for example, different fossil sites.

Salkio holds a cast antler in his hand fell scenery behind.
While wandering in nature, Veikko discovered many Eurasian elk, reindeer and Finnish forest reindeer cast antlers.

Veikko’s workroom

Veikko Salkio stuffed his first bird, a Eurasian woodcock, in Imatra when he was fifteen years old. He learned his skills from a guidebook by K. E. Kivirikko on the stuffing and preserving of animals (Eläinten täyttäminen ja säilyttäminen, Helsinki 1924).

In 1966, he got a licence to collect accidentally deceased protected species, provided that in time they would be placed in a museum. It was important to Veikko that no animal would be slain for his collection. He wanted his collection to be available to everyone interested in nature and animals. The future generations would also have the chance to see the diversity of nature.

Observing the shapes of nature inspired him. Veikko used his passion to plan and execute mini dioramas of nature. With the subtlety of an artist and the vision of a natural scientist, he set the birds and mammals in positions and environments which were as natural as possible for each species.

Salkio founded the natural museum in Kokkola in 1982. The museum became a meeting place for people who are interested in nature, and an important destination for schoolchildren in Kokkola. Thanks to the local people, his collection grew very quickly. He was brought more specimens than he could handle – his hobby was turning into a profession.

The natural museum became the centre of Salkio’s life until his death. He enjoyed giving people advice on stuffing animals and telling them about nature. Many children sat in Veikko’s workroom and observed his work. The eldest got to participate in the actual work, by helping him sow or adjusting the bases. Veikko’s peaceful presence created a safe and stress-free atmosphere. Breaks were important, and a moment’s rest was always refreshing.