Kustaa Hiekka and Onni Okkonen as Collectors of Ancient Art



This research sheds a light on two art collectors, Kustaa Hiekka (1855-1937) from Tampere in Tavastia, and a generation younger Onni Okkonen (1886-1962), originally from Korpiselkä in Carelia. Hiekka was a culturally minded person trained as goldsmith, while Okkonen was educated academically as an art historian, later becoming university professor in Helsinki. Through decades both accumulated versatile art collections representing many different cultures – Hiekka acquiring its pieces personally abroad while Okkonen used also antique dealers in Finland.

The many journeys made by Hiekka are well documented by his postcards, receipts and personal comments, and are already published. He travelled extensively in Finland, took forty trips abroad, one even around the world, and was always accompanied by at least one friend, whose notes contribute to the picture of Hiekka as a collector. For Okkonen, Italy, Greece and the European civilization in general were of utmost importance, but any detailed information of his personal voyages is scarce. He was a diligent writer who pioneered publishing Finnish books on art history of different periods, and wrote newspaper articles and art critiques for the broader audience.

These two collections of ancient art will be analyzed as wholes and object by object. Information and places of acquisition, caring for and display of the collections during the life times of the collectors, as well as their plans for their future will be studied. Okkonen’s collection is already relatively well researched, while Hiekka’s on the other hand is only in the initial phases. As Hiekka believed in art’s refining impact, he prepared for the collection’s future. While Okkonen for his part wrote quite early on about the importance of getting art collections to country towns, he left the decision for his own collections to the hands of family members.

This project combines several viewpoints: the analysis of the objects, their impact as collectors’ items as seen against the biographies of the two Finns, and museology. It is undertaken in cooperation with the Hiekka Art Museum and its director Liisa Rintala MA, and Joensuu Art Museum and amanuensis Eino Nieminen MA.
Gällande start-/slutdatum01/08/2015 → …