Turku University and the Turku University Foundation
Within the framework of the archipelago’s development project, the Centre for extension studies at Turku Univerity started the restoration of Bengtskär lighthouse in 1992. In 1995, he lighthouse was opened as a museum and visitor lighthouse, and since then Bengtskär has attracted thousands of visitors to the archipelago. The goal of promoting tourism in the archipelago has exceeded expectations.
When the Finnish Maritime Administration announced that the lighthouse would be sold in 1999, Turku University turned to the University foundation to ask them to become the owner of the lighthouse. The lighthouse was acquired in 2000, and the foundation has administered it in cooperation with the university and the company Bengtskär Ab since then. The fact that the university took responsibility for the lighthouse is a concrete example of their goal to promote development in the region.
The aim of the Turku University Foundation is to support the research and education of Turku University. The foundation’s main task is to manage the funds from which grants are awarded. In addition to the general fund, the foundation has about 60 special funds that distribute more than one million euros annually. Beside investment assets, the foundation owns and manages cultural objects that support the university’s activities. These include, in addition to Bengtskär lighthouse, Vanhalinna seminar and cultural center in Lieto and the house of Villa Tammekann in Tartu in Estonia. The house was designed by Alvar Aalto.
The foundation’s Bengtskär fund is supported by donations and fundraising. Bengtskär Ab, which manages tourism, is also responsible for maintenance and annual repairs, with major repairs (such as the restoration of the tower in 2006, which cost over 200,000 euro) paid for by special fundraising campaigns.
Advisory Board for Bengtskär
To promote activities on Bengtskär, the Turku University Foundation has created a body called the Advisory Board for Bengtskär. In addition to the foundation, the delegation includes representatives of the University of Turku, the Coast guard, the Armed Forces, the Finnish Transport Administration, the municipality of Kemiönsaari, the Finnish Lighthouse Association, the museum Forum Marinum and Bengtskär Ab. Chancellor Eero Vuorio is chairman of the board and ombudsman Pekka Kanervisto is the secretary. Master of social sciences Heimo Välimäki and admiral Veli-Jukka Pennala are expert members of the delegation.
Individuals, companies, and communities
Everyone who visits Bengtskär and pays the entrance fee contributes to the maintenance of the building. Revenue from visitors is the lighthouse’s main source of income, which covers annual maintenance and repair costs. For large restoration projects, additional funding is required. For example, in the years 2006 and 2016, money was collected for the Bengtskär Fund through campaigns aimed at individuals, companies and communities. The lighthouse is grateful for all the contributions that will help maintain the lighthouse for the future.
Since the lighthouse is a historically significant building, the Finnish National Board of Antiquities has taken part in the planning of the renovations since the beginning. The expertise provided by the Board of Antiquities has been of great importance for the preservation of the building.
Bengtskär was awarded the Ford Foundation national Conservation Award in 1995/1996.