The Consul General of Finland in New York, Ambassador Ritva Jolkkonen, inaugurated the new Honorary Consulate of Finland in St. Louis, Missouri, on June 22, 2012. The reception hosted by Honorary Consul Peter MacKeith coincided conveniently with Finnish Midsummer Day.
Summer weather in St. Louis was definitely showing its lovelier side and the atmosphere was joyous as the inauguration of the new Honorary Consulate of Finland took place in the atrium of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, on Midsummer Day, June 22nd. Among the approximately fifty guests were honorary consuls from several countries as well as representatives from the art, cultural, and business circles of St. Louis. To mark the occasion, Washington University in St. Louis even flew the Finnish flag from the tower of Brookings Hall, the main campus landmark building.
The new Honorary Consul of Finland, Peter MacKeith, is Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Architecture in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. He has worked for years to deepen cultural and educational relations between Finland and the United States, particularly in the fields of architecture, education, and design. His appointment expands Finland's network of honorary consuls in the United States to 29.
MacKeith considers the appointment a great honor and a privilege as Finland is his second home, and the place that transformed his in so many ways. He is a former Fulbright Scholar himself and the author or editor of several Finland themed books and international publications. Before joining the Sam Fox School in 1999, MacKeith directed the international master's program in architecture at the Helsinki University of Technology. MacKeith says the main areas of focus for the Honorary Consulate of Finland in St. Louis Missouri will be in strengthening relations between research and academic institutions as well as mapping out the commercial potential of the region.
Consul General of Finland in New York, Ambassador Ritva Jolkkonen, inaugurated the Honorary Consulate together with Washington University Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. Consul General Jolkkonen, who is about to end her four year tenure in New York, says that the event carries a particular meaning as St. Louis was the destination of her first official visit during this posting. “In the course of that trip the idea arose to have a solid point of contact in the city which has such strong connections to Finnish design and architecture … It really feels as the circle is closing," Jolkkonen describes. The world famous Gateway Arch monument, designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen, is considered to be St. Louis´ main attraction and one of USA´s most visited monuments.