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 Westerhom was educated in Düsseldorf, but he visited Paris early and he introduced the impressionism to Finland. He was born in Turku at the Finnish main land in 1860. He visited the 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.
Victor Westerholm invited some artists from Finland to the new colony. The first summer following Finnish artists joined the group: Frerik Ahlstedt, Nina Ahlstedt, Alexander Federley, Hanna Rönnberg and Elin Danielson. The only Swedish member the first year was J.A.G. Acke. He played an important role in the artist colony in 1886-1892. He seems to have been the central figure of 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 she came to Önningeby also after the war. She wrote 1938 a book about her memories from the colony.
The artists choose 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 spacious 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. It is a museum that entirely works on a voluntary basis.