Pasadena-headquartered Finlandia Foundation National (FFN) on Monday announced the launch of a fundraising campaign called “Saving Finland In America” to support the acquisition of cultural and historical assets from the Finnish American Heritage Center at the now-closed Finlandia University in Hancock, Michigan.
A statement by the FFN said the campaign aims to raise $3 million to preserve and protect Finnish American assets that collectively narrate the story of the people and their impact on the history of the United States.
Anne-Mari Paster, President of the Pasadena-based Finlandia Foundation, said the need is urgent for funds to protect and preserve the heritage of Finnish Americans. Paster encourages individuals to contribute to what she describes as the “Smithsonian of Finnish America.”
Founded in 1953, the Finlandia Foundation National is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and promoting Finnish-American interests through programming, scholarships, and grants. Its office is located on the grounds of the Fenyes Mansion in Pasadena.
The property, now part of the Pasadena Museum of History, was the home of the organization’s founder Yrjö Paloheimo, Finland’s first honorary consul, and his wife Leonora, whose family built the estate in 1906. FInland’s consulate moved to Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles in 1964.
In March 2023, after Finlandia University announced its closure, the FFN board of trustees started moving to acquire the FAHC, including its archives, artifacts, and programs. These assets encompass the Finlandia Art Gallery, Price of Freedom Museum, Finnish American Folk School, North Wind Books, and the monthly Finnish American Reporter.
The foundation’s statement said the fundraising effort is the first step in a multi-phase plan to maintain current programs, staffing, and the conservation of material assets. The foundation is awaiting confirmation of its purchase of the FAHC building and is actively working to relocate collections that were previously housed in university buildings.
Some of the foundation’s future projects include digitizing records so they can be accessible to researchers globally, and establishing an endowment to ensure the FAHC’s future stability.
To learn more about Finlandia Foundation National, visit https://finlandiafoundation.org.