Interview With Hanna-Leena Hemming


Could you tell us where the idea for opening the new museum came from?

Hanna-Leena: There were two coincidences that led to the opening of EMMA. First of all, we had the right building, this old printing factory that was available because it was being sold, and then the city of Espoo noticed that these premises could add value to the city. Then we heard that the Saastamöinen Foundation was looking for a place where they could put their works to be seen, so the two coincidences matched very well.

What could Emma offer that other contemporary museums in Finland do not, like for example Kiasma museum?

I think that EMMA will have a remarkable role in the Finnish art scene. We have Ateneum that shows art until beginning of 20th century, and then Kiasma which exhibits art that is the most modern and newest at the moment. Between these two museums was a big gap; the 20th century was missed, with coverage only from smaller museums. So now in EMMA we have a larger range of pieces of art that were not available in Finland before.

For the foreign visitor, you can already get tours information in English. Will there be other languages available in the future, like French or Spanish?

I am not sure about that, it is going to depend on the temporary exhibitions. If, for example, there is a French artist, there might be need for that, but it is very costly and the demand for other languages is limited, so at least in the beginning we will have to cover the gap with papers in different languages that guide the visitor.

What about the partnership with other international museums and galleries? Does EMMA have any special agreements with other museums around the world?

We do not permanent agreements, but we are working very closely with foreign museums. We are planning to have twelve temporary exhibitions per year, with very big international names, so we need cooperation. It is permanent in many senses, and the idea is to bring remarkable temporary exhibitions.

You have four important exhibitions for starters.

Yes, and four more that we are going to have after Christmas.

What were the criteria for choosing these artists for the opening of EMMA?

The head of the museum, Markku Valkonen, is personally responsible for this selection. I don’t know the criteria, but I think that his selection was very lucky one. It shows the beginning of modern art in a way if we think about Malevich, for example, and then something very new with the Iranian artist Shirin Neshat and her video installation.

You have both big Finnish and international artists' names. Is this going to be a trend for future exhibitions?

Yes definitely, we are going to have very big names for next year. Our plans reach even to the year 2009. For sure there will be more very interesting and exciting artists for the visitor.