Kraatari Museum

Kraatarinpolku 2 Kaustinen


The best place to start the Wirkkala artist path is the Kraatari Museum in Kaustinen (kraatari is old Finnish for tailor). The house was built during the famine of the late 1860s.  Elias Wirkkala had it built for his eldest daughter Leena-Kaisa and his son-in-law Joonas Wirkkala.


Leena-Kaisa’s brother Juho Wirkkala bought the house in 1891 and started a family with his wife Anna-Liisa (née Kentala). On his journey to America, Juho had bought a new Singer sewing machine and began to work as a tailor. The demand for clothes was high, and Juho earned a living as a tailor until his death in 1926.


The Kraatari house was the birthplace of Juho’s and Anna-Liisa’s firstborn, Ilmari Wirkkala. It was here that he got the inspiration for studies, which he started in Kokkola and continued at Ateneum art school in Helsinki.  Already as a young man, Ilmari demonstrated his talent in the visual arts, poetry and writing.




In his later years, Ilmari Wirkkala looked back on his life in the Kraatari house. He carries in his mind the warmth of the fireplace, at which his mother used to cook milk soup or rice porridge, the siblings fighting for every last bit. Womenfolk used to dry their skirts at the fireplace in wintertime.


Ilmari also believed in ghosts, one of which lived in the attic. The ghost, it was said, would become angry if people failed to take care of their shoes, and it might make a lot of noise in the night when throwing the shoes in anger.




Kraatari Museum (summer 2017)


Kraatari Museum (summer 2017)


Kraatari Museum (summer 2017)


Kraatari house (on the left Juho Wirkkala’s family)


Ilmari Wirkkala as a schoolboy


Ilmari Wirkkala (1890–1973)


The coat of arms of Kaustinen


Voice (in Finnish)


Ilmarin haastattelu vuodelta 1970