Pilvi Kalhama
 FL / Phil. Lic.


ORCID identifierhttps://orcid.org/15675

EMMA - Espoo Museum of Modern Art

Areas of expertise
Art theory, art history, new museology, radical museology, contemporary art, art museums, visual studies


I am an art historian and PhD candidate currently working as an Executive Director of EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art, one of the leading art & design museums in Finland. During my period EMMA has taken steps in museological development, brand building, internationalisazion and artist collaboration. I am preparing a doctoral thesis in the field of radical museology and visual studies upon a title "Art Challenging the Museum. Developments in 21th Century Art Museum Identity".    


Since over 20 years I have been working as curator, writer and lecturer and been invited for art juries, comittees and boards in the Nordic art scene. Earlier I have been working as Senior Research Lecturer at The University of Arts Helsinki where I conducted an international and cross-disciplinary Master’s Degree Programme, and, as Head of Department at the Humanities Polytechnic. Before working at EMMA, I was a founding partner and Artistic Director of Helsinki Contemporary, one of the private galleries in Finland. 



In my dissertation, which lies in the middle ground between art research, museology and social research, I examine the changing role of 21st century art museums as social actors and the impact of contemporary art on the change of the museum institution. I ask how museums build their identity in this time and what is the impact of art in the process of museums' self-determination.

Through its institution-critical forms, art has had a strong impact on the development of art museums since the 1960s. In my research, I study the dialogue of art and the museum by asking how is contemporary art shaping and challenging the museum institution today and how are the aspirations of art approached in the museum industry.

As director of EMMA - Espoo Museum of Modern Art since 2012 I have been able to monitor closely the current development of the museum scene and the acute professional discussions. In my research, I utilize the network of experts created through the profession, and, in the case of case study material, three exhibitions produced by EMMA. Methodologically, I utilize the case study methodology and the semi-structured interview method in my research. The interviews are made with museum professionals within the European museum field. The artistic case studies consist of exhibitions of three artist duos: Nabb & Teeri (2015), Elmgreen & Dragset (2020) and Hesselholdt & Mejlvang (2021).

Right now, the museum industry is undergoing a strong social upheaval: challenges amid globalization, growing market-orientation, tourism promotion and current societal changes are an integral part of the context where museums are operating today. There is a lively, timely and critical self-reflection going on in the industry on how to define the profile and indentity of an art museum today. With my research, I hope to be able to answer the question of who and what purpose does the museum serve today.


Last updated on 2023-12-07 at 12:23