I was born in Helsinki. In 1964 I began studying Art History in the University of Helsinki. The year 1965 marked a new direction in my Master’s studies, as I started an internship at the conservation studio of Ateneum under the supervision of Niilo Suihko, who was the head conservator at the time. I proceeded to study in the Fine Arts Academy of Finland in Autumn 1965, while spending my holidays at the museum, studying conservation. In 1970 I graduated as a painter from the Academy.
From October 1967 to May 1968 I had the opportunity to participate in the Nordic pro Firenze operation, one of the internationally organized rescue programs aimed at conservating artifacts affected by the most devastating flood of the century, which postponed my studies for a year.
My career as a Museum Conservator began in Ateneum (subject to the Art Academy of Finland) in 1972 and was completed in 2009, spanning 42 years of service. During that time I advanced from the position of an assistant Conservator to Head Conservator. As Head of Conservation I worked intermittently for eight years between 1989–1997. At the final phase of my career the most rewarding work was art research. I focused on two artists specifically; Albert Edelfelt and the practices in his workshop, in cooperation with FM Marina Catan and senior researcher Seppo Hornytzkyj, and as group leader participated in a research project on Isaak Wacklin.
When the Finnish conservation education program began in 1985 in Vantaa (EVTEK) University of Applied Sciences, I took part as a lecturer in the Department of Painting Conservation. In Autumn of 1987 I took on the leading role, while still working as a lecturer. The teaching cycle was completed in 1987, following the graduation of the first conservation students.
I have advocated conservation in the Finnish sector of the Nordic Association of Conservators, beginning as an ordinary member, then cabinet member, and during 1976–1982, as chairman of the board. My main objective was to advance the Finnisch conservation education programme. I have also participated as a member in the international conservation organizations ICOM and IIC. I was awarded a fellowship for IIC in 1997, and became a cabinet member from 2007 until January 2013.
Following my retirement on the 1st of February, 2009, the idea of returning to my roots as a painting conservator matured during the following Autumn. The studio, located in Kruunuhaka, was christened KONSERVOINTI TUULIKKI KILPINEN OY. As soon as furnishing and security arrangements for the studio space were completed, I received the first paintings in Spring of 2010. The studio was small but adaptable for the requirements of conservation and examination of artworks.
It accommodated the simultaneous conservation of two 140 x 140 cm Särestöniemi paintings, or a number of regular sized works. I have also occasionally done in situ condition assessments for museums, which has brought a refreshing variation to the daily routine. Additionally, art research collaborations with associates took place, which have given rise to a number of published articles. However, the studio space started to be limited for the increasingly expanding range of activities.
Exactly one year after the first artwork entered my studio to be conserved in 2010, the doors of my new studio located in Töölö opened for business. At the time I couldn’t have imagined I would still be so keen on continuing in the field in 2016, that I would move the studio space to a new address. As a studio space twice the size as the previous one and a five-minute walk away from home became available, I grasped the opportunity.
It is well equipped to fulfill the standards for examination of artworks, and comprises a set of ultraviolet lights, infrared imaging equipment, a stereomicroscope and analytic photographic equipment. Further analysis, such as X-ray imaging and pigment analysis is available as a purchase service. Instrumental analysis also supports the choice of methodology and authentification procedures. My clientele is based on private individuals as well as a number of museums, foundations and businesses specialized in art collection.
The acquisition of the new space has been a more complex operation than expected, however it has been well worth the effort. The studio serves more efficiently the needs for conservation, examination of artworks as well as customer convenience.