Finnish Tapestry Mystery in Fitchburg

Painting from Fitchburg Finnish Church

Anchors Window Exhibition on Finns in Fitchburg


Historical Society Invites Public to Help Solve the Mystery of the Painting’s First Home

The Fitchburg Historical Society is currently exhibiting a large religious tapestry in its front window that is thought to have originated in one of Fitchburg’s churches with a Finnish congregation. The painting is a recent addition to the Historical Society’s collection and will be on view through October 6, 2014, in the front window at the Phoenix building at 781 Main Street.

Historical Society Director Susan Navarre says of the impressively large tapestry, “We are very pleased to add such an important reminder of Fitchburg’s Finnish heritage to our collection. It’s a very interesting work, featuring decorations that look traditionally Scandinavian. However, the central figure is unusual: a Virgin Mary holding Christ, a ship, a floral garland and a cross. She stands in front of a church and a body of water.”

“We would like to ask the public to visit the exhibition, and see if they recognize this painting and which local church it comes from. We are also contacting a few art historians, to learn more about the origins of this style of painting.”

The Society’s window exhibition also includes a selection of artifacts from the city’s Finnish community, such as handmade birch bark slippers from the 1930’s, traditionally used during the summer. The display also features a number of objects from Fitchburg attorney Ed Kaarela’s tenure as the Consul to Finland, which are recent additions to the Historical Society collection.

The painted tapestry was housed for many years at the Fitchburg Art Museum, before entering the collection of the Historical Society, where it joins other collections celebrating Fitchburg’s ethnic diversity. Fitchburg was nationally and internationally known for its large population of Finnish-Americans. For example, the Finnish language newspaper Raivaajawas published in Fitchburg for over a century, and was distributed nationwide.

The Fitchburg Historical Society and Crocker Family Center for the History of Fitchburg is located at 781 Main Street, Fitchburg in the historic Phoenix building. It is open Monday and Tuesday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is abundant on-street parking near the Historical Society and free parking behind the building. The building is handicapped accessible.

For more information, call 978-345-1157, write fitchburghistoricalsociety@fitchburghistoricalsociety.com or visit www.fitchburghistoricalsociety.org or https://www.facebook.com/FitchburgHistoricalSociety.

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