Annual General Meeting of the Birch and the Star, Mon 25 April 2016

Please join us for a private visit to the Japanomania exhibition at the Ateneum Art Museum on Monday 25 April at 14.00. The Annual General Meeting of the Birch and the Star will take place after the visit at 15.00. This is your opportunity to hear about our activities and our exciting plans for the future. Come along and have your say! We will meet in front of the Ateneum Art Museum (Kaivokatu 2) at 14.00. The museum is closed on Mondays so we all have to go in at the same time – please be punctual.

All members of the Birch and the Star are welcome!

If you are not a member yet but would like to join the association, please  fill out the membership form and send it to, or bring it along with you to the meeting.

CFP: The Idea of North: Myth-making and identities

Academic Session at AAH2016 Annual Conference and Bookfair University of Edinburgh 7 – 9 April 2016 

Abstract deadline 9 November 2015
The north is an elusive and ambivalent concept with both negative and positive associations. Mythical notions of the north have existed in European culture since antiquity, fuelled at various times by archaeological discoveries and cultural revivals. Romanticism brought on a veritable ‘cult of the north’, which gained in strength throughout the 19th century, riding on the back of the nationalist wave that swept across Europe at the fin-de-siècle. Northernness is not a simple concept; while the Nordic people were associated with purity, originality and subjectivity, the Celts were regarded as creative and noble, yet feckless and irrational. Nevertheless, partly through the impact of Wagner’s operas and Macpherson’s Ossian, by the end of the 19th century, northern artists were elevated to a prominent position on the international stage. There was even a popular belief that it was now Scandinavia’s turn to lead the intellectual advance of humanity. This notion was supported by the theosophical formulation that it was time for the ‘northern race’ to take over. Continue reading

CFP: Artists’ Colonies and Nature in Art, Architecture and Design Around 1900, September 23-25, 2015

Research conference
Organiser: The Tatra Museum, Zakopane

The three major topics that this conference seeks to address include:

– philosophical and theoretical writings and ideas that underpinned the return to nature ca. 1900;

– the rise of artists’ colonies and communities in the countryside in search of alternative ways of living;

– natural motifs, patterns and inspirations in decorative and applied arts, architecture and interior design as well as in painting and sculpture of the time.

The conference will take place in Krakow with a one-day study visit to Zakopane to visit the collections of the Tatra Museum and the artistic houses there.

The conference fee is 55 EURO, in which a trip to Zakopane is included. Participants are required to organize and cover the costs of their travelling and accomodation. Students can register free of charge for a conference, but will be charged 15 EURO for a study-visit to Zakopane.

Abstracts of 20 minute papers should be sent to by 30 June. Continue reading

On the Move: Real and Imaginary Spaces, Borders and Transitions in the Nineteenth Century

The Seventh Annual Conference of the Network of the Nineteenth Century Studies in Finland.

29th-30th January 2015, Tampere, Finland

The full program is now available on the conference website. Click here to follow the link.

Keynote Speakers:

  • Frances Fowle, Reader, University of Edinburgh; Senior Curator, Scottish National Gallery
  • Tutkija Olli Löytty, Turun yliopisto / Åbo Universitet
  • Professori Jari Ojala, Jyväskylän yliopisto / Jyväskylä Universitet
  • Helen Rogers, Reader in Nineteenth Century Studies, English
    department, Liverpool John Moores University

CFP: On the Move – Real and Imaginary Spaces, Borders and Transitions in the Nineteenth Century

The seventh annual conference organized by the Network of the Nineteenth Century Studies in Finland

Tampere, Finland 29th-30th January 2015

Papers can be delivered in Finnish, Swedish or English

We invite scholars across humanities and social sciences interested in exploring real and imaginery spaces and borders as well as transitions and movements across them in the long nineteenth century. The period in question, and its latter half especially, was a time when boundaries and norms were established and stabilized. It was also an era when social, cultural and political roles and conventions were challenged and borders, both concrete and abstract ones, were tested and tried. Nation-building and modernization – which were at least partly simultaneous processes – created new arenas for collective participation and action and new ways of transgressing borders between societies and communities. Continue reading

Between Light and Darkness: New Perspectives in Symbolism Research — Publication out now!

Between Light and Darkness: New Perspectives in Symbolism Research is the first issue in the series Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century published by the Birch and the Star. This publication builds on the 2010 Symposium Between Light and Darkness which was held at the Ateneum Art Museum in Helsinki. It explores issues related to religion, mysticism, and subjectivity in Symbolist art and theory, the fin-de-siècle relationship between art and science, and the continuation of the Symbolist influence after the fin-de-siècle period.

Click here to view the publication

Call for papers: European Revivals III – Aesthetic Values in National Context

Research Conference, Oslo, 22–24 October 2014
The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo

Please note:
The abstract submission deadline has been postponed until May 12.

Initiated by the Ateneum Art Museum (The Finnish National Gallery), and established in 2009, the ‘European Revivals’ research network aims to reflect upon national revivals in European art around 1900. This will be the third in a series of conferences that focus on this topic. The first two were held in Helsinki (Ateneum) in 2009 and 2012. A fourth conference will take place in Edinburgh in 2017. The European Revivals project will culminate in a publication and an exhibition, generated by the Ateneum Art Museum, and opening in Helsinki in autumn 2017.
This particular conference is a three-way initiative by The National Museum (Oslo), the Ateneum Art Museum (Helsinki) and the Scottish National Gallery (Edinburgh) and will run from 22–24 October 2014 in Oslo. The event is intended as a meeting point for both museums and university scholars. There will be three keynote speakers, each speaking on one of the three main themes of the conference. A detailed program of the conference will be announced by the end of June. There will be a moderate conference fee. Continue reading

‘Primitive Renaissances’: Northern European and Germanic Art at the Fin de Siècle to the 1930s

In association with Strange Beauty: Masters of the German Renaissance
(The National Gallery, London: 19 February – 11 May 2014)

11 & 12 April 2014
The National Gallery, Sainsbury Wing: Sainsbury Lecture Theatre


Conference organized by Professor Juliet Simpson (Buckinghamshire New University-Wolfson College, Oxford) in collaboration with Dr Susan Foister (The National Gallery) and Dr Jeanne Nuechterlein (University of York).


Full Conference Rate (2 days including tea and coffee: both days): £75; Concession Rate: £55

Conference Rate (single day including tea and coffee): £40; Concession Rate: £30

ALL TICKETS CAN BE BOOKED AND PURCHASED FROM THE NATIONAL GALLERY (follow link to Strange Beauty, then to ‘Related Events’ tab, then Strange Beauty Conference)

Click here for programme and details

Patricia G. Berman’s lecture on Munch, 6 February at Ateneum Art Museum

Patricia G. Berman’s lecture:

“Place, Space and Memory in the Art of Edvard Munch”

Thursday 6 February 2014 at 3 pm (15.00), Ateneum Hall, Ateneum Art Museum

Patricia G. Berman is Professor of Art at Wellesley College and the University of Oslo. She is an expert on the art of Edvard Munch and James Ensor, and on Danish painting in the nineteenth century.

The lecture is in English and will last approximately one hour. There will be time for discussion after the lecture, and the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions.

The lecture is free of charge. Welcome!

International Symposium: Richard Wagner and the North

Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, November 8–9, 2013

During his lifetime, Richard Wagner’s (1813–1883) only visit to the Nordic countries was to Norway: in July of 1839 his ship Thetis was caught in a storm and sought refuge in Sandvika. There is also a legend that Wagner visited the Imatra rapids in eastern Finland during his stay in St. Petersburg in 1863.

Wagner’s music, however, not only visited the Nordic countries, but also became a permanent resident in the national opera houses there. Rienzi was first performed in Stockholm in 1865, followed by Der Fliegende Holländer (1872), Lohengrin (1874) and Tannhäuser (1878). The Royal Opera in Copenhagen began its Wagner performances with Lohengrin (1870), soon followed by Die Meistersinger (1872) and Tannhäuser (1875). In Kristiania and Helsinki regular Wagner performances started much later, as national opera institutions with regular programmes began only in the 20th century. However, touring or temporary companies performed Wagner for Nordic audiences, for instance, in Finland with Tannhäuser (Helsinki, 1857). The first Wagner opera performed in Riga was Der fliegende Holländer (1843) and in Tallinn, Tannhäuser (1853). Lohengrin reached St. Petersburg in 1868.

Several singers originating in the Nordic countries made unforgettable careers thanks to Wagner repertoire, including Olive Fremstad (1871–1951), Lauritz Melchior (1890–1973), Kirsten Flagstad (1895–1962), Birgit Nilsson (1918–2005) and Anita Välkki (1926–2011). In addition to singers, many conductors, such as Armas Järnefelt (1869–1958), and stage directors, including Stefan Herheim (b. 1970) and Kasper Holten (b. 1973), have developed a special attachment to Wagner’s operas.

  • Keynote speakers: Barry Millington (UK), Hannu Salmi (Finland) and Eero Tarasti (Finland). The inauguration of the conference: Tiina Rosenberg, the rector for the University of the Arts Helsinki.

Continue reading