Helsinki is home to a varied and exciting contemporary arts community and centuries worth of classic art. Both works by international artists and home-grown talents can be found throughout the city. Here are the ten best galleries in Helsinki for both contemporary and classic art.
Kiasma, the contemporary art wing of the Finnish National Gallery, holds over 8,000 works in its collection and showcases the best of Finnish and Nordic artwork in a modern, light-filled building. The Round-Trip exhibit showing during 2018 and 2019 collects works by 26 artists from the Baltic regions to reflect their shared history, culture and arts. Other exhibits, past and present, include the candidates for the Ars Fennica Award, the Aalto Natives showcase, which was shown at the 2017 Venice Biennale and the absurdist paintings of English artist Grayson Perry. On top of this, Kiasma has a dedicated programme for children, and even a ‘colour workshop’ for babies under one year of age. During August 2018, the museum is open until midnight on Fridays.
The Korjaamo Galleria was founded in 2004 as part of the Korjaamo Culture Factory, which is one of the largest centres for the arts in the Nordic region. The gallery presents exhibitions that change on a monthly basis and centres around inspiring works of contemporary art by artists from Finland and overseas who work in various fields and disciplines. These artists include the young, talented painter Sami Havia, a graduate of Helsinki’s Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, who works within the disciplines of abstract Expressionism and intuitive painting, and photographer Mikko Rikala.
Founded in 1969, the Finnish Museum of Photography is the oldest photography museum in Europe and contains a huge archive of over two million photos dating back to the 19th century and provides an exhibition space for contemporary photographers. Exhibits reflect both past and present life in Finland and mark important anniversaries, such as the 2018 exhibit on the centenary of the Finnish Civil War.
Annantalo is the only gallery in Helsinki dedicated solely to workshops, performances and exhibits for children and young adults in order to improve Finland’s arts education from a young age. The centre holds art classes in Finnish and Swedish, weekend events and shows for families, VR games and a book café for the parents. Working with children and families in the local community has helped to bring more street art to Helsinki, motivate young artists and provide free arts education for schools. It is a great place to take children and get them engaged in the arts.
HAM stands for Helsinki Art Museum and the museum seeks to collect and exhibit works by Helsinki artists and display them across the city. They also host exhibits at their Tennis Palace gallery space next to the Kamppi shopping centre. In addition to the 3,500 public sculptures and works of street art throughout Helsinki and its suburbs, the Tennis Palace holds rotating exhibits plus regular events and art workshops. Past exhibits have included a celebration of Helsinki’s graffiti scene and the works of Tove Jansson, Finland’s most beloved artist who primarily lived and worked in Helsinki.
No tour of Finnish art is complete without a visit to the main building of the Finnish National Gallery, which is located in one of Helsinki’s most beautiful historic buildings and contains thousands of the best works by Finnish artists throughout history. Some of the most famous works by artists include Akseli Gallen-Kallela, the von Wright brothers and Alvar Aalto, as well as international artists such as Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin. Even quirky contemporary art, such as Kari Korhonen’s Donald Duck pictures, are celebrated for their role in Finnish pop culture.
Since its opening in 1978, Galleria Bronda has held over 400 exhibitions of Finland’s most innovative and inspiring contemporary art, which change every four weeks. Recent exhibits have included the nature-inspired works of Pekka Parviainen, the wonderfully bleak paintings of Kristina Isaksson and the colourful artwork of Ernst Mether-Borgström.
SIC is a contemporary art space founded in 2012 by a group of local Helsinki artists. The gallery in Jätkäsaari features revolving exhibits of visual art, photography, paintings and performance art by both Finnish and international artists. Currently, the gallery is being renovated but will soon reopen with a whole new set of fascinating exhibits.
The stunning 19th-century villa holding the Cygnaeus Gallery once belonged to Finnish poet and art critic Fredrik Cygnaeus and was donated to the state after his death. The gallery has been operating since 1882, making it the oldest continuously operating gallery in Finland. Of the 200 works making up the collection, you can find works by Albert Edelfelt, the Von Wright Brothers and Fanny Churberg.
Finland’s largest private art museum was founded and named after Amos Anderson, a Finnish newspaper tycoon and patron of the arts. The museum is made up of many works from Anderson’s private collection and newer acquisitions, including Francesco Bassano’s Adoration of the Magi and Tove Jansson’s Fantasy. This makes the museum a pleasing combination of classic and contemporary art. The new Amos Rex expansion is currently under construction and will open sometime in 2018.