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HAM Helsinki Art Museum’s conversion into a foundation in January 2023

17.11.2022 9:15

Photo: HAM/Maija Toivanen

On 16 November, the Helsinki City Council approved the transfer of the City Art Museum operations and personnel to the HAM Helsinki Art Museum Foundation as of 1 January 2023. The conversion into a foundation means that HAM becomes a City subsidiary financed by institutional grants for culture.

The foundation is tasked to maintain and develop a modern art museum of international standing and strengthen Helsinki’s attractiveness as an international city of visual arts.

“HAM will continue to be an art museum for all Helsinki residents. For Helsinki, the conversion is an investment in the museum’s future. We want to ensure the art museum the best possible conditions for future success and agile operation in the international art field,” says Laura Aalto, Acting Executive Director of the Culture and Leisure Division.

Benefits of the foundation model

The conversion aims to improve HAM’s operating possibilities. It allows the museum to plan its budget over a period longer than one year and increase self-financing. It also enables the foundation board to support the art museum director and the management model and marketing communications to be developed as an integral part of the art museum’s operations. Independent administration under the foundation model provides the museum flexibility in planning the economy and enabling more dynamic pricing of services and development of business operations.

The foundation model allows HAM to develop business cooperation and partnerships with, for example, private foundations and individuals who own collections. Partnerships with private collections increase the diverse offering of visual arts in Helsinki. HAM can sell services to the partners, and partnerships can be created more flexibly around eventness.

The art collection remains the property of the City of Helsinki, managed by the foundation under a separate agreement. Investments related to the art collection will continue to be made with Culture and Leisure Division appropriations. The foundation is tasked with accessioning the City of Helsinki’s art collection and proposing the City works of art to be purchased or received as donations or bequests.


The City of Helsinki pays HAM Helsinki Art Museum Foundation approximately €5.9 million annually in institutional grants. The foundation’s expenditure is expected to be around €8.8 million in 2023. The remainder of the expenditure is to be covered by central government transfers and revenue from HAM’s operations.

Approximately 60 current HAM employees and three people from the Culture and Leisure Division’s administration will transfer to the foundation. HAM’s current director, Maija Tanninen-Mattila, will retire at the end of 2022. HAM Helsinki Art Museum Foundation has started recruiting a new museum director.

Further information:

Laura Aalto, Acting Executive Director of the Culture and Leisure Division, 
Reetta Heiskanen, Acting Director of Culture, Culture and Leisure Division,