Kiasma’s response to the question of Roles and Responsibilities
As a response to Pietari Kylmälä and Eero Yli-Vakkuri’s article in the September 2021 issue, I would like to clarify the roles of our supporters close to Kiasma. The main point is that the Museum of Contemporary Art makes all content decisions independently as a curatorial team consisting of the museum director together with curators in collections, temporary exhibitions, Kiasma Theatre and public program. Kiasma Support Foundation’s board members are not taking part in the selection process of museum’s program or art acquisitions.
Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art is one the three museums within the Finnish National Gallery. The governing bodies of the Finnish National Gallery are its council, board and director general. The council and board of the Finnish National Gallery are appointed by the Ministry of Education and Culture, while the director general is appointed by the Finnish Government. The Finnish National Gallery falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Culture. It is financed primarily by the state, operations compensated still with lottery money, and rentals by the Ministry of Finance. Own incomes via the ticket sales, museum shops and collaboration with corporate partners are around 20-30% of the total annual budget. It is almost the same sum that is used for museum exhibitions and public programs in the three museums.
Kiasma Support Foundation is an independent body, whose main mission is to provide financial support to Kiasma’s exhibition and publishing activities and to broaden the museum’s art collection through donations and fundraising events. Kiasma’s museum director selects and presents possible acquisitions and project proposals to the Kiasma Support Foundation. Those possible support options for the foundation are agreed beforehand in museum’s management team.
Since 2008 Support Foundation has made possible to acquire six works of art from Finnish and international artists and above that it has provided financial help with three specific projects. All the collection donations and other support via Kiasma Support Foundation are listed on the foundation’s website. All this support is fundraised by the Support Foundation with the kind help of individual donors, art lovers and other foundations. Main activities by the Support Foundation for fundraising are visits at Collector’s Home events and selected art destinations, and also specific gala dinners linked to museum’s major exhibitions. Support Foundation has its own board with 13 members who do all the work at the Foundation pro bono, ie they do not receive any financial or other compensation from Kiasma, the Finnish National Gallery or any other party.
One of the Kiasma Support Foundation member collector Poju Zabludowicz together with his wife Anita have donated to the Kiasma/Finnish National Gallery one work of art: a video installation Safe Conduct by UK artist Ed Atkins. The donation was made after the request from the museum director in association with the ARS17 group exhibition in 2017, and realized a year after. That show was the first occasion, when the artist was introduced to Finnish audiences. Since that Atkins had his solo show at Kiasma in 2020, and on that time the mentioned donation was exhibited at Kiasma. On practival level we have worked with the Zabludowicz Collections with specific loans based of curatorial choices to some of our temporary exhibitions over the years. And we have hosted together international artists and curators visits as part of our collegial networking between UK and Finland.
In general, we work at Kiasma with public and private museums, collections and donors based on our own annual programming, curatorial guidelines and principles. As a public art institution we do not sign petitions, but our personnel members as individuals are free to take part in civil society activities and initiatives. We have updated our equality program, and safer space principles recently, which are available from Kiasma’s website. And as a public institution we are taking part to key topics in current conversations with our programming, which is based on our museum professionals and curators collaborative work and insights.
Museum director, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki