How and why is public art acquired?

All residents of Helsinki have an equal right to live in a high-quality environment, and HAM strives in part to safeguard this right by placing works of art equally in different parts of the city and in new residential areas that do not yet have any public art on display.

There are a total of over 400 outdoor sculptures, works of environmental art and historical monuments in Helsinki. Approximately 250 of these are part of HAM’s collection and located in the city’s parks, roads and plazas. In addition to these, the city’s public spaces feature works of art owned by and located on properties owned by public enterprises, companies, the state and private individuals. The city’s monuments are maintained by the Helsinki Art Museum.

Public sculptures contribute to an interesting and beautiful urban environment.

HAM acquires new works of art for street areas and parks annually, and occasionally for indoor areas as well. The aim is to bring notable contemporary art on display and elevate the quality and value of the built environment and public spaces. In addition to this, HAM strives to make the city a more pleasant place for its residents and increase people’s interest and commitment to their own living environments.

The planning of new public works of art is always based on location, which defines many of a work’s characteristics, such as its size and nature. Pieces of public art are often designed specifically for their location, with the artist incorporating the location, its history or other characteristics of the environment into their work. However, the Art Museum may also acquire existing works of public art, which are then placed in appropriate locations.

A public art project may also be based on the initiative of a community or other city department. A public piece of art can also be created as a result of an open or invitational competition. Additionally, public works of art are received as donations. In such cases HAM is involved in the realisation of the work and choosing a location for it. Donated works are added to the Art Museum’s collection. The Art Museum is responsible for the condition and maintenance of public works of art as well as their registration.