Rettig Palace

The Garden of the Rettig Palace
The Garden of the Rettig Palace

The Rettig Palace or Villa von Rettig was completed in 1928. It was originally built as a private residence for the Rettig family, but, because of the social standing of the family, the building also had facilities for public functions and festivities. Privacy was provided by building a wall around the land and a garden away from the prying eyes of passers-by. The plans for the building were drafted by the Architects Office of Bertel & Valter Jung in Helsinki. Valter Jung is credited as the chief architect. He also designed the palace's interior décor, except for the ‘Herrainhuone' (library) and the large dining room.

The Jung architects prepared two plans for the Rettig Palace. The first drawings were completed in autumn 1927. The final plan was dated February 1928. The building was completed very quickly, as the von Rettig family were able to move into their new home in December that year.

Right from the very beginning, it was clear to Valter Jung that the design of the building should take into account its location in the midst of the culturally and historically important setting near Turku Cathedral and Vanha Suurtori (the old market square). The palace was built in a spirit of baroque classicism. At the time that the palace was being built, other buildings that were significant but very different in style were also under construction in Turku: they included the editorial offices of the 'Turun Sanomat' newspaper on Kauppiaskatu, which was designed by Alvar Aalto in the functionalist style, and also the Maalaistentalo (country house) on Humalistonkatu.

The main façade of the palace was on the Rettiginrinne side and the main entrance on the Hämeenkatu side. This entrance was only used at times of festive functions. Two different gardens were designed around the palace: on the Nunnankatu side was an English-style garden with its winding paths and summer houses, and, on the Rettiginrinne (the hill on which the palace was built) side, a park based on axial symmetry, in the middle of which quite a large pond with a fountain was designed and built.

The palace was bought by the Matti Koivurinta Foundation in 1991. The original plan was to move the foundation's art collection into the palace. However, because of the considerable archaeological finds made during renovation and building work, the museum projects were expanded. The museum of contemporary art, Ars Nova, was opened on the two lower floors of the palace, and the museum of archaeological history, Aboa Vetus, beneath its garden.