HAM Helsinki Art Museum reopens with Ai Weiwei and IC-98

Helsinki Art Museum (HAM) reopens on Friday 25 September with the exhibitions of Ai Weiwei and IC-98, following a renovation and expansion of the museum’s exhibition spaces in the historic Tennis Palace (Tennispalatsi) building.

Chinese contemporary artist and social activist, Ai Weiwei will reopen the museum with his first solo show in Finland. The exhibition will focus on the artist’s use of wood, and includes the world premiere of two new works: Garbage Containers and White House. The exhibition will also present celebrated installations, sculptures and photographs including Handcuffs, Grapes and Tree.

Highlights from HAM’s collection will be celebrated with a series of reopening exhibitions presented across the ground floor of the museum. Currently representing Finland at the Venice Biennale, IC-98, an artist duo comprised of Patrik Söderlund and Visa Suonpää, will present Aftermath: digital animations and computer aided drawings which offer a vision of a world without people, but where the traces of humanity are still evident.

100 Years of Taidesalonki will explore the role that Finnish collector, historian and art dealer Leonard Bäcksbacka has played in developing Finland’s art scene. Organised on the occasion of the centenary of the Taidesalonki, Finland’s oldest private art gallery still functioning (established by Bäcksbacka in 1915 and remaining open today), the exhibition will present a collection of works by artists from the past 100 years, including lends from Taidesalonki, works from HAM’s collection and other major museums in Finland. Highlights include works by Ellen Thesleff, Tyko Sallinen and Viggo Wallensköld.

The new HAM gallery will also dedicate space to presenting new work by emerging Finnish artists. The gallery will open with works by Finnish artist Reija Meriläinen (b.1987) in an exhibition called En Garde.

The reopening also creates an opportunity to look back at the foundation of HAM, an institution established in 1976 through a major donation of over 440 works from the Bäcksbacka estate. Thanks to this generous gift, HAM has grown to become one of the largest museums in the Nordic countries. After the centenary exhibition, the ground floor exhibition space will be dedicated to a rolling display of works from the Bäcksbacka Collection, which remains at the core of the museum’s collection.

HAM continues to be developed around its collection, which now comprises over 9,000 works, almost half of which are displayed across the city in parks, streets, health centres, schools and libraries, with 250 of these able to be viewed 24 hours a day. As part of the development scheme, HAM is also developing the ‘HAM Metro’ exhibition space, located in one of the city’s busiest metro stations, Kamppi.

Exhibition listings:

Ai Weiwei @ Helsinki (25 September 2015 – 28 February 2016) IC-98: Aftermath (25 September 2015 – 31 January 2016)

100 Years of Taidesalonki (25 September 2015 – 10 January 2016) Reija Meriläinen: En Garde (25 September – 15 November 2015)

Photo: Gao Yan: Ai Weiwei.

Read more: HAM