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Banksy tickets sell out before exhibition opens

Finland's museums are hoping for a record-breaking summer as art-starved visitors return.

Banksy, Love Is in the Air, 2003
Works by British artist Banksy are coming to a Finnish museum this summer. Image: 24 Ore Cultura

Tickets for a Banksy exhibition opening in May have sold out just under a month before the show opens its doors.

The exhibition, A Visual Protest: The Art of Banksy is being held at the Serlachius Museum in Mänttä, 270 kilometres north of Helsinki.

While admission is free, the museum requires visitors to book in advance, with no more time slots currently available.

Finland's museums are hoping for a record-breaking summer after months of coronavirus restrictions pushed visitor numbers down.

Story continues after photo.

Ihmisiä Didrichsenin taidemuseossa
Museums have to comply with coronavirus hygiene measures and have visitor quotas to reduce congestion. Image: Mikko Ahmajärvi / Yle
"Last July was a record breaker and we're hoping for something similar this year," said Kimmo Levä of the Finnish Museums Association.

As most museum exhibitions have been closed, people have a strong desire to go and enjoy art, he said.

The Banksy exhibition at the Serlachius Museum is one of a number of exhibitions due to open as national coronavirus restrictions loosen.

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Suomen museoliiton pääsihteeri Kimmo Levä kuvattuna Suomen kansallismuseon edessä, Helsinki, 16.4.2021.
Kimmo Levä from the Finnish Museums Association hopes institutions will open their doors as soon as possible. Image: Jari Kovalainen / Yle
Helsinki's Ateneum museum will present an exhibition of Russian artist Ilja Repin's work from the beginning of May. Like the Serlachius, the museum will require art lovers to pre-book.

"It's looking really good. It's a relief that we will finally be able to open to the public," said Ateneum director Marja Sakari.

One hundred of the approximately four hundred member museums of the Finnish Museums Association are currently open, most of which are outside the Helsinki capital region.

One of them, Helsinki's Didrichsen Museum, has remained open to the public despite the pandemic.

"We've kept the museum's doors open because legally we can do that as long as we take care with coronavirus measures," said museum director Maria Didrichsen.

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Tove Jansson maalasi öljyvärityön Tupakoiva tyttö vuonna 1940.
The Didrichsen Museum is currently showing an exhibition of paintings by author and artist Tove Jansson. Image: Yehia Eweis / Suomen Kansallisgalleria, Finnish National Gallery
If museums have been closed, the closure has been based on recommendations from local authorities.

"Everything has gone great in our museum," Didrichsen said.

The Finnish Museums Association said it hoped there would be no more delays in opening exhibitions to the public.

"We hope that they will open as soon as possible, if not on May Day then on the first working day in May," Secretary General Kimmo Levä said.

According to the association, museums have lost about 30 percent of ticket and gift sale revenues as a result of the recent wave of the pandemic.

Finnish museums are also awaiting a final decision from government on a possible grant of around 15 million euros to help plug the financial gap.

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