History of Helsinki Artists' Association in a nutshell

Founded in 1967, the goal of the Helsinki Artists’ Association (HAA) is to promote the visual arts and their exposure and the professional position of visual artists locally, nationally, and internationally. HAA’s core operations include gallery and art lending activities as well as arranging visual arts education for children, youth, and adults. HAA continues to focus on internationality, tourism, and business collaboration.


The Helsinki Artists’ Association was founded at a meeting held at Hotel Torni on 13 January 1967. According to the proposal made by graphic artist Tuulikki Pietilä, the official Finnish and Swedish name of HAA became Helsingin Taiteilijaseura ry – Konstnärsgilleti Helsingfors rf.


In spring 1968, a competition for designing a logo for HAA was organised for the members. Out of six proposals, the winning design was Jorma Hautala’s geometric emblem. The emblem is still in use today.


The gallery activities of HAA started with a joint exhibition at Kunsthalle Helsinki in 1968.


HAA joined the Union of Finnish Art Associations in 1969.


Organised at the Jetty Barracks at the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress in summer 1973, HAA’s annual exhibition was the first ever civilian event held in the historic barrack building.


The first HAA summer course targeted at visual arts hobbyists was organised in Suomenlinna in 1974.


Children’s visual arts courses started in 1975 as HAA organised courses for children and youth in Puistola with Rauni Liukko as the teacher.


The Art School for Children and Youth of the Helsinki Artists’ Association was officially founded in 1989.


In 1994, the Board of HAA and Library Director of the Rikhardinkatu Library Jorma Mähönen began to negotiate establishing an artotheque at the Rikhardinkatu Library. The initiator and an active advocate for the project had been member of the Board of HAA, visual artist Iiris Hälli. The Artotheque of the Rikhardinkatu Library started its operations in February 1995 on the Finnish name day of Laina (loan in Finnish).


The Helsinki Artists’ Association celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2020. The birthday party inlcuded diverse programme such as anniversary exhibition opening, art café, and performance art in collaboration with the long-time partner Rikhardinkatu Library.


In 2020, the name of the Suomenlinna gallery space, the Jettybarracks Gallery, was changed into HAA Gallery, as HAA continues to strengthen its international activities and services for tourists and businesses.