A rich collection
The Ateneum Art Museum has the largest collection of paintings and sculptures in Finland. The collection includes a total of more than 4,300 paintings and more than 750 sculptures. The Ateneum Art Museum collection presents the development of Finnish art from 18th-century Rococo portraiture to 20th-century experimental movements. The Ateneum’s representative collection of international art includes more than 650 works.
The earliest paintings in the Ateneum collection include portraits from the Romantic era and landscapes of the Düsseldorf School. The collection also features Parisian influences from the end of the 19th century, the beginning of realism, symbolism, and the finest paintings of the golden age of Finnish art. These trends usher us into the beginning of the 20th century, when the expressive scope of Finnish art expanded. Finnish expressionism, impressionism, cubism and surrealism reflect international influences.
The Ateneum collection includes works by artists who began their careers as late as the 1960s, with the latest featured pieces dating from the past few years.
The extensive collection of drawings, sketches, watercolours, and sketchbooks provides a representative overview of Finnish art history up until the present day. Indeed, this part of the collection is of great importance for research on Finnish art. The collection of hundreds of sketchbooks contains material that is essential for art research, providing, for example, insights into artists’ working methods.
Explore the entire art collection
The works in the collections of the Ateneum, Kiasma and Sinebrychoff art museums can be explored on the Finnish National Gallery website. You can search for works by title, year, artist’s name, or theme. Copyright-free works can be downloaded directly from the website.
Artworks on tour
Loans are a major part of museum work. Each year, 300 to 600 works of art from Ateneum’s collection are lent to different exhibitions. The aim of lending is to mobilise Ateneum’s collection, to show it to as wide an audience as possible, both domestically and internationally.
The Growing collection
Latest additions to the collection
The Ateneum Art Museum collection grows every year, either through the museum’s own acquisitions or through donations. The acquisitions made by the museum complement the existing collection as a whole and make it more comprehensive for specific time periods. The idea is to introduce new perspectives to the existing perception of the work of well-known artists.
In recent years, the areas of focus in acquisitions have included increasing the number of works by female artists and obtaining works that depict 20th-century urban life in Finland. Acquisitions are also made with future special exhibitions in mind.
The Karin and Åke Hellman collection
Donated in 2019
In 2019, the Ateneum Art Museum received a significant collection donation from the estate of the artist couple Karin and Åke Hellman. The donation includes a total of 35 works, including 25 oil paintings by Åke Hellman and 10 works by Karin Hellman. Other donated pieces include 29 sketchbooks and approximately 100 drawings by Åke Hellman, from the period between 1939 and 1944, when he worked as a combat medic in the Winter War and the Continuation War.
The works in the donated collection date from a period spanning approximately fifty years, from the 1950s to the early 2000s.
Helmi Biese: Coastal cliffs at Villinki, the 1890s
Donated in 2020
The trademark of Helmi Biese’s art is her large-scale, ambitious landscape paintings. Coastal cliffs at Villinki is a prime example of this large-scale landscape painting type, defined as belonging to the symbolist phase in her oeuvre. The Ateneum collection includes only three paintings by Biese and one self-portrait drawing.
Presented from a bird’s eye view, View from Pyynikki Ridge was acquired for the collection immediately after its completion in 1900. The work is said to represent Biese’s nationalist phase. This wintry lake landscape and the summery Coastal cliffs at Villinki make a fine pairing. The Villinki island, off the coast of Helsinki, was a familiar painting location for Biese, as the family had a summer villa there.
Coastal cliffs at Villinki was gifted to the Ateneum collection by the Botho Simolin estate in the summer of 2020.
Werner Holmberg: Poplar alley, 1856
Acquired in 2018
Werner Holmberg became interested in the study of nature while studying landscape painting in Düsseldorf. During his painting and hiking trips, he visited the town of Erkrath and its surroundings, as well as the nearby Neandertal valley. There he drew and painted limestone formations, beech forests and poplars.
The work acquired for the Ateneum originally belonged to Hans Gude, Holmberg’s Norwegian-born teacher. The work complements the Finnish National Gallery’s Holmberg collection, which includes several sketches of Poplar alley.
Three different versions of the painting are known. One of the two versions painted in 1856 was sold to Germany at an early stage, and its current location is unknown. A large-scale version, completed a year later, is part of the Emil Aaltonen Museum’s collection in Tampere, in western Finland.
Learn more about the works in the collection
The Ateneum’s works of art are always available! Online, you can focus on individual works with help from short movies and sign language presentations.
Short films related to the Stories of Finnish Art exhibition
A series of short films featuring works in the Stories of Finnish Art exhibition shows familiar classics in a new light. In the films, the camera picks up details on the surface of the works that are not visible to the naked eye. This reveals new aspects of familiar works: brushstrokes, highlight colours and surprising details. There are 13 films in total.
The short films can be shown in non-commercial screenings, for example, at schools, kindergartens, and nursing homes.
Click the icon in the upper right corner of the video below to access all the films.
Sign-Language Art Presentations: Signmark
Rap artist Signmark presents two classic works from the Ateneum collection using international sign language. Click the icon in the upper right corner of the video below to access all the films.
Signmark Productions Oy
Ateneum Art Museum