In the wake of Nationalism and Romanticism, in the 1890s artists and researchers began to show a greater interest in the Kalevala and the folkloric areas
What ensued Nationalism and Romanticism was an artistic movement that extended to virtually every sphere of artistic endeavor and drew its inspiration from the Kalevala, the nature and the way of life of the song-lands. Artists headed for Karelia in search of inspiration, and in their wake came new generations of poetry collectors and researchers.
The founders of this movement or, in a broader perspective, mode of thought, that was later called "Karelianism", included the visual artists Akseli Gallen-Kallela and Louis Sparre. They were the first to set off on pilgrimages to the "Land of the Songs", but were soon followed by the sculptor Emil Wikström, the writers Juhani Aho, Eino Leino and Ilmari Kianto, the composers Jean Sibelius and P. J. Hannikainen, the architects Yrjö Blomstedt and Victor Sucksdorff, and a host of others.
One particularly significant trip to the Karelia of the White Sea was that undertaken by Into Konrad Inha and Kusti Karjalainen in the spring of 1894. The outcome of their journey was incomparable: Inha's classic work "From the Song-Lands of the Kalevala", his superb photographic accounts of life in the region, and Karjalainen's White Karelian glossary, a lexicon comprising some 10,000 words.
The expeditions to the song-lands of the Kalevala inspired by Karelianism continued well into the 1920s, when the border between Finland and Russia was closed. It was not until the Second World War, when Finnish troops occupied part of the Karelia of the White Sea, that researchers were next able to visit the bardic villages. Subsequent developments led to the border being closed again for decades.