• PL 59 (Unioninkatu 38)



1990 …2023

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Curriculum vitae

Elina Räsänen is Senior Lecturer in Art History. She holds a Title of Academic Docent (both from the Helsinki University and Åbo Academi).

Räsänen leads the research project Fragmentation and Iconoclashes in Medieval and Early Modern Objects (2020-2023), funded by the Kone Foundation.

Previously, Räsänen was a member of the AoF project Carving Out Transformations - Wood Use in North-Eastern Europe, 1100-1600 (2018-2022).


Description of research and teaching

I specialize in the art of northern Europe, particularly the Baltic Sea region, in the late Middle Ages as well as in the early modern period.

My scholarship addresses issues of spatial and material aspects of art as well as object biography. Another facet of my work examines the theoretical questions around iconography; my article "The Panopticon of Art History: Some Notes on Iconology, Interpretation, and Fears" in The Locus of Meaning in Medieval Art: Iconography, Iconology and Interpreting the Visual Imagery of the Middle Ages (2018) is an example of this.

My scholarly interest is in the 'second life' of medieval sculptures: what happened to them after their active use as part of the Catholic liturgy? What kind of iconoclasm took place in Finland after the Reformation? Related to this, I am interested in fragmentation, iconoclasm, and breakage, to which my latest research project focuses on.

I have over 20 years of teaching experience on a higher education level. I am the primary supervisror of six doctoral students and have examined/supervised c. 17 MA and c. 40 BA theses. During 2017-2019 I was the Director of Bachelor’s Programme in Cultural Studies.

Research interests

My main research material consists of late-medieval wooden polychrome altarpieces with sculptures and panel paintings, tabernacle shrines and effigies. I have also published on embroideries and various objects of material culture. I concentrate particularly on the wood sculptures in the Finnish collections; these are housed in the museums as well as in the present-day Lutheran churches.

Education information

16.3.2019        Title of Academic Docent in Medieval Art History, Åbo Akademi.

11.3.2015        Title of Academic Docent in Art History, University of Helsinki.

(NB. Title of Academic Docent is an honorary title which most closely equals the German Habilitation)

10.11.2009      PhD in Art History, University of Helsinki.


University pedagogy: 30 cr, 2006–2022.

Leadership Training for Programme Leaders at University of Helsinki, winter 2017–18.

External positions

Associate, International Center of Medieval Art (ICMA)


Chair person, Suomen Muinaismuistoyhdistys

2021 → …

Member of the board, Suomen Muinaismuistosäätiö

2020 → …

Visiting Fellow, University of Turku

1 Sept 201931 Jul 2020

Chair, Taidehistorian Seura


Fields of Science

  • 6132 Visual arts and design
  • Art History
  • Medieval Art
  • Polycrome wood sculptures
  • Iconoclasm
  • 615 History and Archaeology
  • Cultural History
  • Cultural heritage

My gallery