In 1885, the Turku Art Association received a donation from an unknown benefactor for the building of an art museum. Later it was discovered that the donation came from two businessmen brothers, Ernst and Magnus Dahlström. A two-stage architectural competition for the building was held in 1899, and the winning entry was submitted by Gustaf Nyström. The brickwork frame building with granite facings was completed in 1904.
In the 1960s, damage caused by damp appeared on the exterior walls of the upper level exhibition rooms. Despite repairs, this proved to be a recurring problem that persisted until the late 1990s. Furthermore, the roof lights leaked and were difficult to clean and maintain. The storage and exhibition spaces did not meet the requirements of modern museum activities from the point of view of heating, humidity and lighting conditions. In addition, it was very difficult to transport art works in and out of the museum and access for physically disabled people was extremely poor.
Ten years later, the renovation began to progress when an access driveway for the museum’s service vehicles into the underground parking lot under the site was being built. Beside the route a loading bay was excavated as well as handling facilities with storage space for art works.
The architect planned a transparent, slender structure above ground that would enhance the architecture of the stone building. Pilkington Planar™ insulating glass units (IGUs) comprising of Pilkington Optifloat™ Clear THS and Pilkington K Glass™ THS for its good thermal and energy efficient characteristics were selected.
A stairwell and lift are built from the basement of the museum through the rock and up to the steel-glass tower, creating a corridor connection to the two exhibition floors and basement.
The extension design aims at continuing Gustaf Nyström’s original symmetry. The lift shaft runs underground along the axis of the building. It is located beside the driveway running underground. A staircase that serves as an emergency exit has also been built symmetrical to the lift.