- About Ateneum
Most of the artworks in the Presidential Palace come from two collections. The older is the Imperial Art Collection, the first works for which were acquired in the mid-1850s and the last in 1897. The other extensive body of works comprises the deposit collection from the Ateneum Art Museum, accumulated since Finland gained its independence. In addition, artworks in the Presidential Palace include bronze busts of all the presidents and portraits of their spouses.
Deposition of artworks in the Imperial Palace and later in the Presidential Palace continues the old tradition wherein art is an intrinsic element of the interior decoration of palaces, castles and manors in Europe. The Presidential Palace is a symbol of the highest political power in Finnish society, and the art collection in the palace reflects the various manifestations of that power, such as dignity, representativeness, culture, high quality, elegance and permanence.
The various forms of power are also reflected in the dominant themes of the collection. The first paintings in the Imperial Collection were associated with the Crimean War and the defence of the Emperor’s lands. The geographic features of the Finnish provinces and the country’s climate are illustrated by many magnificent landscape paintings. Marine themes and ships allude to merchant shipping and contact with the rest of the world, whereas the presidential portraits represent the holders of the highest elected democratic power.