Grave memorial for former president Koivisto to be unveiled on his date of birth, 25 November

Government Communications Department 22.11.2018 13.12
Press release 548/2018

The grave memorial for former President of the Republic of Finland Mauno Koivisto will be unveiled at the Hietaniemi Cemetery in Helsinki at noon on Sunday 25 November, former president Koivisto’s birthday.

Mauno Henrik Koivisto (1923–2017) was President of the Republic of Finland from 1982 to 1994. He was Finland’s ninth president. Koivisto’s State funeral was held on 25 May 2017.

“The work encourages us to understand our past”

The grave memorial for former president Koivisto was designed by artist and photographer Perttu Saksa. His work, Kartta, was selected as the winner of a competition for the grave memorial design held this past spring.

“I have great respect for former president Koivisto. I met him once, around ten years ago. I remember him as a very calm person who exuded a long historical perspective on life,” artist Saksa says.

Former president Koivisto was interested in history. With this in mind, the past and its significance are expressed in the memorial.

“History, wear and mistakes are a significant part of the work. When broken pieces are connected together, an object becomes more important than when it was intact. The image on the surface does not represent anything in particular, but it can be thought of as a kind of mental map that encourages us to understand our past,” Saksa comments.

Saksa explains that the shapes in the work have all been created by hand. “I hope that the craftsmanship and the presence of human work will continue to live on, kind of like a spectre, in this work. As a certain kind of presence.”

Watch the interview with artist Perttu Saksa on the Government’s YouTube channel.

Highest levels of state leadership to attend the unveiling

In addition to former president Koivisto’s family and friends, the unveiling event will be attended by President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö and Mrs Jenni Haukio, Speaker of Parliament Paula Risikko and Deputy Speakers Mauri Pekkarinen and Tuula Haatainen, as well as former presidents Tarja Halonen and Martti Ahtisaari and their spouses.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini, Minister of Education Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner, Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä, Minister for European Affairs, Culture and Sport Sampo Terho and Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Anne-Mari Virolainen will attend as representatives of the Government.

In addition to artist Perttu Saksa, those who collaborated with him in creating the memorial will also be present at the event. Altogether nearly 70 invited guests will attend.

The unveiling event will begin with Jean Sibelius’ Isänmaalle [To the Fatherland], performed by the Guards Band, followed by a speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini on behalf of the Government. President Niinistö will deliver the unveiling remarks.

The YL Male Voice Choir will perform Suomen laulu [Song of Finland] by Fredrik Pacius, after which flowers will be laid by the former president’s family and friends, the President of the Republic and the representatives from Parliament and the Government.

Bishop Eero Huovinen will read a prayer, and the attendees will join in singing Hymn 548, Tule kanssani, Herra Jeesus [Come With Me, Lord Jesus], followed by Finlandia Hymn by Jean Sibelius, to close the event.

Finnish Broadcasting Company to broadcast live starting at 11.50 a.m.

The Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE will broadcast the event live on Yle TV1 and Areena on 25 November starting 11.50 a.m.

During the event, access to Hietaniemi Cemetery via the New Chapel gate (Hietaniemenkatu 20) will be closed, but the other gates will remain open.  The police will direct traffic at the Hietaniemi Cemetery area during the event. Former president Koivisto’s memorial will be open to the public for viewing directly following the event, at around 1 p.m.

Read more

More information about artist and photographer Perttu Saksa and the memorial design competition

Photos of the memorial and the event will be published on the Finnish Government’s Flickr account.

Inquiries: Timo Lankinen, Permanent State Under-Secretary, tel. +358 295 160 300, Sanna Helopuro, Senior Adviser for Legislative Affairs, tel. +358 295 160 170, and Päivi Paasikoski, Deputy Director of Government Communications, tel. +358 40 547 6279, Prime Minister's Office