The New Valamo Monastery has a long tradition of cultural activities. The old monastery may have be known for its provinciality, but the monks of Valamo maintained workrooms devoted to iconpainting, photography and bookbinding for centuries. Monks were also in the practice of copying manuscripts in their quarters. The original Valamo Monastery began publishing books printed in the monastery as early as the 1860s.
The cultural activities of the New Valamo Monastery took a leap forward in 1984 when a new Cultural Centre designed by Antero Turk was completed. The building was inaugurated during a celebratory seminar called by Archbishop Paavali on September 21-23 of that same year. The Cultural Centre provided new facilities and led to the founding of the Valamo Conservation Institute and the New Valamo Library and Archives. Thus the image and the word found a place under the same roof.
The octagon in the central foyer of the Monastery’s Library harkens back to ancient Christian symbolism and Byzantine architecture. It refers to the eighth day of the week, the Resurrection Day, and the day of rest after God created the universe. The inner circle of the octagon features a fresh and colourful painting by Sakari Marila entitled “Päivien kehrä” (Spindle of Days) with an abstract form that connects to newer generations.
The meeting rooms of the Cultural Centre bring together not only the Orthodox community, but also many other groups who seek out the tranquil setting of the monastery for their events.
Beginning in the 1980s, the cultural activities of the New Valamo Monastery made it possible for the Orthodox Church of Finland to reach out to wider society and the New Valamo Monastery soon became known as a “window to Orthodox religion in Finland”.
In 2006 an extension of the Cultural Centre added even more exhibition space for the monastery’s historical artefacts and changing exhibitions.