The Önningeby Artists’ Colony was founded in 1886 by the Finnish landscape painter Victor Westerholm, at the Åland Islands in the Baltic Sea. Önningeby attracted artists from both Finland and Sweden until the First World War. In 1906-1913, several Estonian artists stayed in Åland too.Victor Westerholm was educated in Düsseldorf, but he visited Paris early and he introduced impressionism to Finland. He was born in Turku on the Finnish mainland and visited Åland Island for the first time in 1880. Four years later, he bought a house in the archipelago and two years later he moved there and started inviting his Finnish artist friends. The only Swedish member the first year was J.A.G. Acke, playing an important central role in the social circle with his jokes and parties.
A majority of the colony members were women. Hanna Rönnberg visited the colony from the start and returned to Önningeby after the war. In 1938, she wrote a book about her memories from the colony. The artists chose Önningeby as the place to spend their summers – and some winters – not because they thought the village was the most beautiful place for painting. Their reason was the closeness to the Westerholms’ home and the fact that the village had many houses and outbuildings, which could easily house both local people and tenants. The first world war ended the Önningeby Artists’ Colony. In 1992, the Önningeby Museum opened.