2020 at HAM: 84,000 visitors, 14 exhibitions and 10 new public works of art
Exhibitions and other events at HAM Helsinki Art Museum attracted a total of 84,000 visitors to Tennis Palace in 2020. The most extensive and popular exhibition entity of the year was Museum of Becoming by Laura Gustafsson and Terike Haapoja, examining the relationship humans have with their environment and other species. At the beginning of the year, the public were excited by the private exhibition presenting focal pieces by Vilho Lampi from the 1920s to the 1930s and the State of Mind – Helsinki 1939-1945 and Ellen Thesleff – I Paint Like a God exhibitions that were opened to the public in 2019. The most popular exhibitions in the autumn included the Lallukka – Life in the Home of Artists exhibition examining the colourful past and present of the cultural monument and Perttu Saksa’s White Arch, in which the works were inspired by sculptor Laila Pullinen’s estate, especially the tools she had used. Despite challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, all of the planned exhibitions were realised. A total of 14 exhibitions were organised in Tennis Palace during the course of the year.
Plenty of guided tours were held in early 2020, when the Ellen Thesleff and State of Mind exhibitions filled the museum. Come March, the museum had to quickly switch to offering digital services for the public. Open guided tours, viewpoint interviews and workshop videos on Instagram and Helsinki-kanava were introduced in 2020 as new forms of service. Events and guided tours were organised safely when permitted by the coronavirus situation. In addition to special arrangements in place in the museum premises, safe museum visits were enabled by piloting advance ticket sales and the advance booking system. The audience department was also actively involved in improving the accessibility of the presentations of public works of art on the website and organising outdoor sculpture tours for school groups. Towards the end of the year, the ‘Lounasvartti Lallukassa’ and ‘Maanantaina museossa’ formats were launched, bringing live online guided tours to Instagram and recorded tours to Helsinki-kanava.
The year 2020 was very active at HAM in terms of public works of art. Akseli Leinonen’s Ecology Stone was unveiled at Mall of Tripla in central Pasila, Herttoniemi saw the completion of Emma Jääskeläinen’s Put put in Adriananpuistikkko and Raimo Saarinen’s temporary work of art Keksitty menneisyys was unveiled in Englantilaisaukio in Kalasatama. Three pieces were realised in schools with the help of the percentage financing principle. Pielisjärvi Revisited by Susanne Gottberg was completed at Ressu Upper Secondary School in Kamppi, King of the Hill by Tommi Toija was placed in Alppila Upper Secondary School and KOMBO by Laura Pehkonen was completed in the Jakomäen Sydän new build. Daycare centres also received three pieces of art. Fairy Tale Palaces by Tatu Tuominen was completed in Maunula, Puuska by Maija Luutonen at Albatrossi daycare centre in Lauttasaari and BuddyPicnic by Kati Immonen in Malminkartano. The New Horizons entity by Konsta Ojala was completed in Malminkartano Youth Centre. In addition to this, the participation-based Rhizome Project work of many years by the Other Spaces collective was kicked off with two weeks of workshops in Tehtaankatu Comprehensive School. Océane Bruel and Dylan Ray Arnold’s work Concrete and miscellaneous feelings was acquired for HAM’s public art collections.
HAM was also active in depositing works from its collections. Even though the operations were on hold in late spring and late autumn, HAM managed to place 174 works of art from Helsinki’s own collections in 18 different locations in divisions, City administration and affiliated companies. Much like previous years, deposit operations involved plenty of logistical arrangements due to renovations and moves. In addition to active depositing operations, HAM published a work on Ellen Thesleff as a free e-book as well as the story of the Havis Amanda statue on the first of May, complete with text and images, on its website.
The decision was taken to move the contemporary art event Helsinki Biennial to summer 2021 due to the exceptional circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Helsinki Biennial decided to honour the already published content and artists as well as other programme and event partners. All of the 40 artists already announced will be participating in the biennial in 2021. Because the need for digital and virtual experiences is characteristic of our time, special attention was paid to designing such experiences in autumn 2020. The first Helsinki Biennial will be held from 12 June to 26 September 2021 in the unique, maritime setting of Vallisaari.