Maria Toivonen


Maria Toivonen is a conservator at the National Archives of Finland. Her work involves the conservation of cultural history and of materials that can be digitalised. In other words, Toivonen is responsible for maintaining, repairing and cleaning materials. “For example, at the moment I’m cleaning up old logbooks and conservation maps from Turku and Pori provincial councils that are going to be converted into digital form,” Toivonen says.

“In addition to actual conservation, the conservator’s work includes providing guidance and advice relation to the retention of materials, both for our own personnel and for outside parties.” The work is largely independent, although Toivonen’s work also involves cooperation with another conservator and others colleagues in the Archives. “My work is versatile and varied,” she says.

Toivonen’s working days also include organising exhibitions. Recently she has been working on the upcoming Akatemiatalo 200 exhibition, which will open in Turku in November 2017. She is also working on the Turku Book Fair, which will take place in the late autumn. The conservation facilities also receive groups of visitors, who get to see the Archive’s activities. Also, trainees also come to get acquainted with the work of a conservator.

Toivonen is a paper conservator, and is also a qualified artisan in the clothing business. She joined the National Archives of Finland in autumn 2008. “And it’s great to get to do the kind of work I’ve trained for,” Toivonen says.

According to Toivonen, the most fascinating things in her work are the items to be conserved. “Sometimes I find myself just staring at them: old maps for instance, are like works of art. It’s amazing how they have been drawn or painted by hand so beautifully and skilfully.”

Toivonen feels that her work is important and makes a difference. “The best part of my job is that it allows the materials to last as long as possible for the benefit of future generations.” One of the main tasks of the National Archives of Finland is to ensure the preservation of material that is relevant and important to the relevant to the country’s cultural heritage. Toivonen’s work supports this goal very concretely.