The UPM-Kymmene Cultural Foundation sr was founded in 2006. The foundation was established by the UPM-Kymmene Group, which donated almost 700 works of art to the foundation. The task of the foundation is to raise awareness of the culturally and art historically valuable works in its collection, and to preserve the cultural heritage associated with the Finnish Forest Industry.
The works owned by the foundation are located on UPM–premises on 10 sites across Finland, in Germany and in China.
The collection includes works by noted artists such as Albert Edelfelt, Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Berndt Lindholm , Elin Danielson, Emil Wikström, Helene Schjerfbeck, Marcus Collin, Santeri Salokivi, Sigrid Schauman, Verner Thomé and Victor Westerholm.
The foundation has also two separate subcollections of metallic prints from the 1980s and international contemporary art from the late 1900s. The most reknown international artists in the latter collection are A. R. Penck, David Hockney, Markus Lüpertz, Mimmo Paladino, Per Kirkeby and Sigmar Polke.
The UPM Cultural Foundation is aiming for new opportunities
”In order to move forward, the foundation must also renew itself,” smiles Pirkko Harrela, UPM’s Executive Vice President, Stakeholder Relations, who recently took over as Chairman of the Board of the UPM-Kymmene Cultural Foundation.
Founded in 2006, the Cultural Foundation owns about 600 works of art acquired by UPM and its predecessors during their history. The Cultural Foundation was established because the valuable art did not find its place in the daily life of a listed company. The collection also needed professional attendance. The collection includes Finnish works by, for example, Eero Järnefelt, Albert Edelfelt, and Hugo Simberg. The Foundation also owns contemporary German art, such as works by A. R. Penck and Markus Lüpertz.
The Foundation’s activities aim to promote the preservation of the cultural heritage related to the forest industry. In addition to the traditional exhibitions and deposition of artworks, new activities are now also being considered.
According to Harrela, the five-member board has diverse expertise and lively discussion. All board members are interested in developing the foundation’s operations. “We want the foundation to also be seen as a proactive player in the cultural field. The new strategy, therefore, has four types of priorities for development: collection, networks, new projects, and communication. ”
“The collection has already been categorized. The principle is to own a smaller but even more relevant collection. As a result, works that have been standing in the storage for many years, mainly graphic sheets, have already ended up in auction. The consequent funds can be invested in increased visibility, for instance, on the foundation website, which will be revamped this year. ”
Cooperation is power
The artworks of the Cultural Foundation are familiar to many UPM employees. They are being displayed not only in UPM’s units across Finland but also in Augsburg, Germany. In the future, the small foundation will focus its activities in Finland.
“The cooperation between the company and the foundation is of key importance. But there is no reason why it should be limited to the rental and display of works in the premises. We see that both parties can benefit from closer cooperation and therefore we are also considering new and different joint projects,” says Harrela.
“For instance, we have investigated the opportunity to participate in the Lux Helsinki -light festival. We have also considered some form of art competition using UPM’s renewable materials. The main thing is that both the foundation and the company see common goals in the projects.”
The Foundation also wants to strengthen its networks. The Association of Finnish Art Foundations and many art museums have been its partners for years. Also, collaborations between educational institutions or research projects, for example on industrial architecture, could open up new partnerships for the Foundation. This kind of activity could also suit the pandemic era when there are limited activities in museums and galleries.
There are many opportunities, but Harrela reminds of the limited resources of the foundation. “The daily life of the foundation lies on the shoulders of one person, our executive manager Tanja Saarto, plus outsourced services. Therefore, it is important that we choose wisely where we engage ourselves. Tradition must be cherished, but it is good to spice it up with something new and interesting.”
What kind of art does the new chairman like herself then?
”I prefer modern art myself. For example, Ulla Rantanen’s work Open Landscape (1991) is bright and pleasing to the eye. I enjoy the insights that art can provide at its best. I see that the art on display at UPM’s premises shows the appreciation of the building’s users and brings aesthetics to everyday life in a great way.”
Text and photo: Meri Tuominen
”The art in the UPM premises brings a touch of aesthetics to a working day. The Foundations collection has many fine works to choose one’s favourite”, says UPM-Kymmene Cultural Foundations Chairman of the Board, Pirkko Harrela.