Frithjof Tikanoja (1877–1964) was born into a land-owning peasant family in Kälviä. Tikanoja, however, was more interested in commerce and fiction than in agriculture. After having worked as a shop assistant and a sales representative, he set up a wholesale firm, Lassila & Tikanoja, in Vaasa in 1905 with Josef Lassila as his associate. In the 1920s, the firm grew and expanded to the textile and footwear industries. In 1922, Tikanoja was awarded the Finnish honorary title ‘kauppaneuvos’ (commercial counsellor) for his achievements in business.
Tikanoja began collecting art when he married Ruusa Mynt in 1918. By the early 1930s, the walls in the house of the seven-child-family were filled with art, including works by old masters and modernists. Tikanoja was a cultural enthusiast, who loved literature and music and sang in a choir. He supported generously cultural and educational projects in Finland. Tikanoja was one of the founders of the Vaasa Art Association in 1917.
Tikanoja donated his home and significant art collection to the City of Vaasa in 1951. His home became an art museum, which made his collection available to all those interested, just as Tikanoja wished.