Join us for the strangest museum experience you can think of in Finland or even the world, the Sculpture park in Parikkala!
We are pleased to invite you to yet another genuinely weird experience in Finland. Come with us to visit the crankiest Outsider Art, or Art Brut museum that you can imagine, the Sculpture park in Koitsanlahti, Parikkala in South-Eastern Finland.
In Finnish, Outsider Art is called ITE - short for “Self-Made Life”, and that is exactly what Mr Veijo Rönkkönen (1944-2010) was. He lived and worked alone in the middle of nowhere some eight kilometres out of the centre of his native village, Parikkala. He lived with his parents until their death and joined the local paper mill at 16 years of age and worked there until retirement. With his first salary, he bought ten apple trees for a garden that was to become the centre of his Outsider Art world around the family house.
Rönkkönen’s art park consists of over 560 painted concrete sculptures with some 250 of them figuring people doing gymnastics or yoga. Many pieces are his self-portraits, barely disguised and all of them fascinating and even scary. The extravaganza figures are colourful and have hair and jewellery made of stones, glass and in some cases even false teeth! Rönkkönen built paths of concrete plates around the park and repainted the walls of his house with different colours to make his ensemble complete.
The Finnish Ministry of Education awarded Rönkkönen the Finland Prize for his life and work achievements in 2007 and the following year, his sculpture park was elected Tourism Object of the Year, not bad for a factory worker and self-made artist! The museum has also gained quite some reputation internationally in Outsider Art reviews. Just recently, on 20 May 2022 the Sun, a British tabloid wrote an article wondering: “Is this the creepiest tourist attraction in the World? Inside the park with hundreds of statues that have human teeth!” It also quoted Tripadviser reviews, such as “Enough to give you nightmares. Real human teeth, cold glassy eyes and half-naked statues in every imaginable pose” or “Individual statues were just spooky but in all, a haunting place with a positive twist of creative madness.”
Rönkkönen wanted to bury the entire park in sand after his death and leave it in a thousand years' silence, like the Chinese Terracotta Army. This did not happen as people around him saved the park after his death and it is there now for us to, erh, enjoy!
Walking in the park is on your own responsibility as the path is not well maintained. Make sure you come in good shoes.
There is a small museum shop with interesting stuff although perhaps not something for your coffee table at home or a birthday present to your mum.
The museum is open 24/7, the year round. Just stop at the highway rest area next to it, leave your car there and walk to the park. There is a small entry fee that you can pay at the cash collection poles at all times or with a card at the park boutique which is open in June - August.
If you come in the summer and are a bit lucky, there is a kiosk with soft drinks and ice cream at the rest area. For profer refreshments or a meal, drive a bit further to the centre of Parikkala and check the local shops and cafés and get a touch of the local life to top up your museum experience, perhaps. You might also wish to save your need to wash your hands for the village café unless you are ready for a bush pee behind the parking area.
Parikkalan patsaspuisto, Parikkala Sculpture Park
Koitsanlahti, Parikkala, at Highway 6,