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ARS FENNICA art foundation

Executive Director



Kari Niemistö


MSc (Econ.) Kari Niemistö is a significant investor and an active practitioner of agriculture and forestry. He has significant shares in e.g. Raisio and Stockmann, where he has also been involved in other capacities than as an investor; at Stockmann, as Member of the Board and Vice Chairman, and in Raisio, as Member of the Supervisory Board and Nomination Committee.

Kari Niemistö is Chairman of Henna and Pertti Niemistö Art Foundation – ARS FENNICA sr and Member of the Board of the foundation Maire Taposen säätiö sr. He has been Member of the Board of the Finnish Brain Foundation sr from when it was founded in 2009 until 2018.


Leena Niemistö


Leena Niemistö is a Doctor of Medicine and Honorary Doctor in Administrative Sciences, Professional Board Member, Startup Investor, and Cultural Influencer.

Key employment history: Leena Niemistö worked at Orton as Specialist in Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine in 1997–2004. From 2003, she was the CEO and main owner of the Dextra Medical Center in Helsinki. When Pihlajalinna bought the majority of the company’s shares in late 2012, Leena Niemistö continued until 2016 as Pihlajanlinna’s deputy CEO and CEO of Dextra, which became a subsidiary.

As an investor Leena Niemistö is involved in more than 40 growth companies, eight of which she is the chairman of. In 2017 and 2018 Talouselämä magazine rated her as the second most important female decision-maker in the Finnish economy, and in 2019 as the third most important female decision-maker. In 2019, Leena Niemistö won the Finnish Women’s Board Award. The Faculty of Medicine of the University of Helsinki chose Leena Niemistö as Alumni of the Year in 2023.

Principal positions of trust

 Nexstim Plc and of the Nightingale Health Oyj;   Chair of the board of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet and the Opera and Ballet Support Foundation sr.;   Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of Pihlajalinna Plc, and of Finnish Fair Corporation;   Board Member of Raisio Plc, University Pharmacy, National Defence Course Association and Securities Market Association;   Chair of the Advisory Board of Partiosäätiö sr (Scout Foundation) ;   Deputy Chair of the Board and Chair of the Award Panel of the Henna and Pertti Niemistö Art Foundation – ARS FENNICA sr;   Supervisory Board Member of the Finnish Cultural Foundation and Supervisory Board Member of the Finnish Research Foundation for Orthopaedics and Traumatology;   Chair of the Advisory Board of the University of Helsinki Alumni Association.

Leena and Kari Niemistö’s collection of contemporary art (the Niemistö Collection) is one of the most important contemporary art collections in Finland.


Elina Merenmies


The Board of Directors of Henna and Pertti Niemistö Art Foundation ARS FENNICA has invited Elina Merenmies to become its new member for the term 2023–2026. Previously, in 2009–2016, Merenmies has served on the Foundation’s selection panel for prize nominations and was herself nominated for the prize in 2007. The other members of the Board of Directors of Ars Fennica are Chairman Kari Niemistö, Vice President PhD Leena Niemistö and M.Sc. (Tech.) Heikki Bergholm.

Elina Merenmies has studied painting at the Saint-Luc School of Art in Brussels from 1988 to 1989 and monumental painting at the Prague Academy of Fine Arts from 1991 to 1992. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in 1999.

Elina Merenmies’ career as a visual arts teacher is significant. At the Academy of Fine Arts, she has taught painting as a teacher, lecturer and MA student supervisor in connection with thesis exhibitions in 2000–2012.  Merenmies has been teaching egg tempera painting at the Free Art School since 2014. She teaches first, second and fourth year courses and works as a compiler of the graduating students’ thesis exhibition. She was appointed headmaster of the school in 2020.

Merenmies was involved in the founding of the Checkpoint Helsinki contemporary art organisation in 2012–2013. As an amateur musician, a community artist on a radio programme in Paris (add year) and often with paintings as well, she has collaborated several times with poets and musicians using an experimental working methods and methods that utilise chance. Merenmies has been part of the Aalto University group that developed a 3D painting application. However, as a painter, she is interested in traditional techniques such as tempera and oil paints.

As a member of the core group, Merenmies participated in the preparation of the Visions for Education and Training in Visual Arts 2030 plan that was published by the Uniarts Helsinki in 2022.


Karri Niemistö


Karri Niemistö holds a Master of Science in Business Administration from Maastricht University.

Karri Niemistö has worked in various roles within financial services and consulting firms in Finland and abroad, including positions at EY and Elite Wealth Management.



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