Skip to content
Front page
Our Work
The Unknown Baltic Sea

The Unknown Baltic Sea

The timely exhibition was an art-based operation to save the Baltic, bringing together a diverse group of artists for a joint exhibition in the sea fortress of Suomenlinna in the summer 2023.The exhibition reached more than 10,000 people around the world.

The theme invites us to explore our own relationship with the Baltic Sea.
Levyhalli ja ripustus
Photo: Petri Anttila


The Unknown Baltic Sea was an art-based operation by the John Nurminen Foundation to save the Baltic Sea, culminating in a joint exhibition by a group of artists held in the sea fortress of Suomenlinna’s Levyhalli building in summer 2023. 

Exploration of the Baltic Sea

The exhibition was a dialogue between seven different artists who have explored the Baltic in their work. Jan Eerala, Kaisu Koivisto, Anna Nykyri, Meeri Koutaniemi, Renja Leino, Arja Renell and Raimo Sundelin are creating a multi-voiced exhibition experience for the senses centred on the Baltic Sea. The exhibition was set in motion by photographer Meeri Koutaniemi, who wanted to explore her own relationship with the Baltic afresh. 

The exhibition was opened to audiences in May and closed in September. The project was produced and coordinated by the John Nurminen Foundation in collaboration with the exhibition’s curator Henna Paunu (Espoo Museum of Modern Art EMMA) and the scenographer Kati Lukka (Finnish National Theatre). The exhibition is made possible by the cooperation of the Governing Body of Suomenlinna and other partners.

Transformation to actions

The “unknown Baltic Sea” was a common theme for the John Nurminen Foundation this year, and was touched on by various collaborative projects with different partners. “The Unknown Baltic Sea theme invites us to explore our own relationship with the Baltic – to learn to keep a weather eye, so to say. I hope that it will inspire all of us to think about how our actions impact the Baltic. I encourage everyone to find the rescuer in themselves that can transform words into actions,” says the John Nurminen Foundation’s Managing Director Annamari Arrakoski-Engardt

At the beginning of the summer 2023, two week-long day camps were organized for children and young people in Suomenlinna. The Helsinki Artists’ Association acted as a cooperation partner. Two child-parent workshop days were also organized with them in Tvärminne Zoological Station.
On Baltic Sea Day, we organized guided tours for the public and a discussion between photographer Raimo Sundelin and curator Henna Paunu.
In cooperation with Viapori Jazz, a Merimelu performance was produced, where the students of the Suomenlinna school performed music from the waste washed ashore on the island. The musicians Samuli Kosminen and Jusu Berghäll, who were responsible for the coordination and production of the show, performed together with the children in a free concert at Levyhall and on Baltic Sea Day on Espa’s stage.
Over the course of the summer, the exhibition was visited not only by the general public but also by working communities and stakeholders, as well as marine researchers and artists from various fields. The shared concern for the state of the Baltic Sea and the understanding of the importance of the dialogue between ecology and culture created hope for an improvement in the relationship between man and the sea.

Merimelu -konsertti Suomenlinnan Levyhallissa. Yleisöä ja esiintyjiä.
Photo: Maarit Kytöharju 2023

Sustainable event in Helsinki

The Unknown Baltic Sea exhibition was created using environmentally friendly methods and produced no non-recyclable waste. All parties involved in the creation of the exhibition committed to utilising environmentally friendly solutions, as required by the sustainable tourism strategy of the Governing Body of Suomenlinna and MyHelsinki.


Helsinki Artists’ Association
Tvärminne Zoological Station
Sun Effects
Viapori Jazz
The Governing Body of Suomenlinna

Related News