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An art museum in an old police station

The old police station is worth the visit

The old police station from 1936 is the first building in Kajaani designed by architect Eino Pitkänen. It functioned as a police station until 1980s and in 1985 the building was renovated for the use of the Art Hall. Since 1993 it has served as an exhibition space for Kajaani Art Museum.

The old police station Step in the art museum’s jail

Originally there were a total of six jails or cells on the police station’s ground floor. When the police department moved to new premises in the 1980s, one jail (jail number six) was kept intact. The jail is in its original condition and visitors of the art museum can go in. (Annamaari Hyttinen, Kajaani Former Police Station’s History, Bachelor’s Thesis 2016, KYAMK)

The old police station Messages from the past

There has been a desire to leave the inscriptions on the walls and door of the jail, but one cannot be sure of their authors. The walls bear witness to for instance tallies, swearwords and pseudonyms. (Annamaari Hyttinen, 2016)


Functionalist architectural style

The Kajaani Police Station, now the Kajaani Art Museum, has been called Pitkänen’s best functionalist work. The layout features several solutions typical to Pitkänen’s style, such as staggering the building into three levels (visible both in the façade and on the northeast side), using rows of small windows, a round window motif, a festive vertical entrance and plastering.

These stylistic features are most prominent in Pitkänen’s public works, but small windows or a round window, for example, often also enliven the simplistic appearance of his residential buildings. Some buildings have rounded corners, but cube-like forms nevertheless dominate Pitkänen’s architecture.

Preserved exterior

The appearance of the old police station has remained almost original. In 1965, an extra row of windows was added onto the south-west wall, only to be later bricked up in connection with the renovation of the Art Hall – thus restoring the building’s original appearance. The exterior colour of the building has varied: Under the current lime mortar’s white surface there are also remnants of a light yellow and pink surface.


The interiors, on the other hand, have changed with the changing needs. As early as 1954, the space which was originally designed as a gym and lecture hall was divided with an intermediate floor into two storeys, making the third floor more functional. The interiors changed most radically when the police station became an Art Hall. Almost all partitioning walls were removed and the facilities were converted to exhibition use. However, one jail has been preserved downstairs as a nod to the history of the building.

The art museum’s floor plans
Kainuun Museon kuva-arkisto
Architect Eino Pitkänen

Architect Eino Pitkänen (1904–1955)

Eino Pitkänen was born in the rural municipality of Kuopio in 1904. He spent his childhood in Savo, but studied in Helsinki. In 1931 he graduated from the Helsinki University of Technology as a diploma architect and the following year he completed a degree in pedagogy at the University of Helsinki. In addition to his career as an architect, he worked as a lecturer at the Kajaani Seminary from 1932 to 1945. In 1940, Pitkänen founded his architectural firm in Kajaani, later also expanding to Äänekoski. His architect’s office in Kajaani closed in 1954. Eino Pitkänen’s designs are concentrated in an area ranging from northern Savonia to southern Lapland. However, Pitkänen’s style is best exemplified in Kajaani, where the city centre features several commercial buildings designed by the architect.