In 1985 a cultural institute was founded in Kuhmo (Finland) to promote the knowledge of the Kalevala and the traditions of the Soviet Karelia. A new space was needed to carry out the many activities. The new cultural centre was called Juminkeko.
Completed in 1999 as part of the 150th Anniversary of the New Kalevala, Juminkeko centre is a national monument. Its predecessor, the Kuhmon Kulttuurikornitsa Foundation, was founded in 1985 for the 150th Anniversary of the Old Kalevala.
The task of the Foundation was to treasure the cultural tradition related to the Kalevala and to introduce the Karelian culture to the Finns. Since the beginning was the activity both national and international, but with Juminkeo it has expanded considerably.
Kuhmon Kulttuurikornitsa was initially part of a wider frendship project between Finland and Karelia. In 1990 it became independent and soon turned into a foundation entitled to a permanent state aid from the Ministry of Education.
The Board of Directors involves experts of the Kalevala and Karelia. The first Board included the Professor Pertti Virtaranta, the Director of the Folkloristic Archive and Chairman of the Kalevala Society Pekka Laaksonen, the Governor Ahti Pekkala, the movie Director Lasse Naukkarinen, the Vice-Chairman of the Cultural Society of Karelia Pentti Keynäs. The Chairmain of the Board has always been the writer Markku Nieminen.
The cultural exchange with the KARSS and later with the Republic of Karelia was a core activity for the Kuhmon Kulttuurikornitsa Foundation.
In the early 1980s, it arranged various cultural and musical events in both countries and established a strong cooperation with the Karelian cultural authorities, the associations of arts and the cultural organizations.
The new Foundation needed a proper space for its activities. The design of Juminkeko centre was entrusted to the renowned Finnish architects Mikko Heikkinen and Markku Komonen. The construction was supported by the State and completed in 1999 as part of the 150th Anniversary of the New Kalevala.
The Kuhmo Kulttuurikornitsa Foundation changed its name into Juminkeko Foundation at the beginning of 2000.
Since the early 1980s, projects have been an integral part of the Foundation's activities.
In the early 1990s, the Foundation promoted the rescue of the White Karelian villages and their culture establishing a 30-year revitalization project that included actions on different sides. The Foundation received funds from several Finnish ministries, Finnish and foreign cultural foundations and funds, and later also from the European Union. In 1993, the project was regognised by UNESCO as an activity of World Decade for Cultural Development.
In 2005, the Foundation received the medal Europa Nostra for its effort in the preservation of the cultural heritage of the White Karelian villages.
To promote the runosinging and other traditional music, Juminkeko founded the ethno music festival Sommelo in 2005 and the Poetry Academy in 2010.
Within a few years, the leading London magazine Songlines listed Sommelo as one of the 25 most significant world music festivals. The Poetry Academy, on the other hand, has created an extensive network of international folk music research institutes. Both these initiatives were born from Juminkeko and, although they became independent, they continue to closely cooperate with the Kalevalian centre.