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The Tyyne-Kerttu Virkki Foundation

Tyyne-Kerttu Virkki created the foundation in 1978 to maintain the museum and its collections. The purpose of the foundation is to nurture the promotion of Finnish national, and particularly Karelian, handicraft, cottage, and art industries and the related traditional customs and formal culture. In addition to material culture, the foundation seeks to promote intangible cultural heritage by organising traditional and cultural events. 

The Virkki Handicraft Museum's collection was donated to the Craft Museum of Finland (in Finnish).

The Tyyne-Kerttu Virkki Foundation organises annual seminars each November to commemorate the anniversary of Virkki's death on 20.11.2000.

The Tyyne-Kerttu Virkki Foundation's spokesperson is (retired) museum manager Jarno Peltonen.


Tyyne-Kerttu Virkki

Counsellor-in-Craft Tyyne-Kerttu Virkki (5.6.1907-20.11.2000) has become a significant influence as a promoter and recorder of handicraft culture from the time of the Winter War to the end of the century.


Virkki was the editor-in-chief of Omin käsin magazing (founded in 1938) from 1944–1970, and the managing director and designer of Vokki Oy from 1947–1990. In her work, she emphasised her views on nurturing handicraft skills and, in particular, the Karelian tradition.


In 1977 Virkki founded a handicraft museum based on the handicrafts she collected from Aunus in Karelia. In 1978, Virkki founded the Tyyne-Kerttu Virkki Foundation to take care of the handicraft museum.


Tyyne-Kerttu Virkki's father, Viktor Virkki.

Historian havinaa 1907-2000

Born in Sakkola in 1907, Tyyne-Kerttu Virkki spent her youth in the Karelian isthmus from 1907–29. Her parents, Viktor and Maria Virkki (née Laamanen), bought the Lampu farm near Sakkola church village from a bankruptcy auction in 1906. At that time, the farm included a general store and an inn. Later, a sawmill and mill were also added to the property. Such a large space became an important training farm, with domestic, livestock and gardening trainees constantly at work.


Despite the appearance of carefree wealth, Tyyne-Kerttu's early life was tinged with grief: She lost her mother at the age of four to tuberculosis, and at the same time sustained a life-long hip injury. The four years that she had to spend in hospital did not discourage the tenacious and talented Sakolan girl, who knew early on what she wanted from her life.

Tyyne-Kerttu graduated as a handicraft teacher in 1929. She continued her studies at Fredrika Wetterhoff's Home Industry College and graduated as a home industry teacher in 1934.

Time in Estonia 1934-1936

Tyyne-Kerttu Virkki was a teacher of weaving, composition and dyeing at Kehtna Körgem Kutsekool. The school was located in Keava, about 65 km south of Tallinn.

The school trained weaving, economics, and gardening teachers. The purpose of teaching handicrafts was to develop a new sense of nationality and to reduce German influence in interior design styles.


Aunus Years 1941-1944

During the war, Tyyne-Kerttu Virkki was given the task of organizing workshop activities in Eastern Karelia in the Aunus district under the military administration. In 1940–41, she first worked as a workshop and home industry inspector for the migrant women of Uusimaa county of Vapaan huolto, and then in Aunus 1941–44. The goals of the workshop activities were to improve the residents' clothing situation, employ the female population, teach and collect handicraft materials. At the workshop, eighty people prepared e.g. taluks and clothes, while domestic workers concentrated on sales products, mainly straw and plaiting work.


On the initiative of Maija Stenij, who worked as a Lotta in East Karelia, an exhibition of East Karelian handicrafts was organized at the Ateneum in October 1942, and the exhibition toured Finland in eight locations. From the collected material, Tyyne-Kerttu Virkki founded a craft museum, however, the collection had to be returned to the Soviet Union. The current collections of the Handicraft Museum in Aunus mainly consist of objects personally donated to Virkki.

Preserving Aunus folk handicrafts and the already disappearing Karelian handicraft tradition for future generations is one of Virkki's cultural works, the value of which cannot be measured by any amount of money.

Omin käsin 1944-1970

Tyyne-Kerttu Virkki was appointed editor-in-chief of Omin käsin in the spring of 1944, a position which she kept until retiring in 1970. The publication, which first appeared in 1938 as Kotilieden käsityölehti, aimed to preserve handicraft skills and Finnish traditions of handicraft. The magazine also presented numerous ideas for beautifying the home and provided practical instructions, introduced innovations, reported on exhibitions and fairs, organised competitions, and also awarded grants.

The magazine also informed its readers about the handicraft culture of other peoples. The aim was to create aesthetically pleasing, lasting quality under the conditions of economic austerity that prevailed during the period.

Vokki Oy:n toimitusjohtajana ja mallisuunnittelijana 1947-1990

Tyyne-Kerttu Virkki and Edith Verkkolainen, a manager originally from Viipuri (Vyborg), established Vokki Oy in Helsinki in 1947. The business concept was to preserve old handicraft skills and adapt traditions to the present day, as well as to provide employment opportunities for skilled artists, particularly in the firm’s early years, to employ handcraft artisans displaced from territories Finland had been forced to cede to the Soviet Union after World War II.

Vokki’s first premises were at Unioninkatu 15, where its textile production was also located. Later the shop moved to the Finnish Design Center house at Kasarmikatu 19 and the interior design office to Väinämöisenkatu 31, where the Omin käsin editorial offices were also located.

In 1977 Vokki Oy moved to the building where Virkki lived at Merikannontie 3; its activities then focused on a gallery exhibiting handicrafts.


Virkki-käsityömuseo ja säätiö perinteiden vaalijoina 1977-

In 1977, after obtaining space together with a gallery on the ground floor of the apartment building at Merikannontie 3, Tyyne-Kerttu Virkki established the Virkki Handicrafts Museum based on the collection that she had assembled. The area was decorated by interior designer Epe Kerminen and included an ‘East Karelian corner’ whose furnishings reproduced traditional architectural decorative motifs. In addition to its permanent exhibition the museum hosted numerous annual celebrations and related programs. 

In 1995 the museum moved to Karelia House where dedicated rooms were created for both permanent and special exhibitions, as well as storage facilities. The collection comprises almost 4000 pieces of handicraft art from both Finland and abroad. The museum also has an archive and reference library.

The foundation that bear's Tyyne-Kerttu Virkki's name was established in 1978 with the aim of assuring the continued operation of the museum and preserving Finnish, including Karelian, handicraft, cottage industries, and industrial art and design, as well as promoting the related culture of traditions, customs and form.

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