Cultural heritage is the result of human activity and interaction with the environment. Cultural heritage and the cultural environment are intertwined. The changing of values, beliefs, skills and traditions is a key characteristic of cultural heritage. A lovingly nurtured cultural heritage is an economic attraction factor and plays an important role in the development of tourism. Therefore, cultural heritage is also a resource for development from an economic point of view.
Cultural heritage and related information are produced, used, managed and preserved by a wide range of actors, from private enthusiasts to public sector operators. In Helsinki, the Culture and Leisure Division is responsible for library materials, museum collections and the maintenance and renewal of cultural heritage and supports art and cultural activities, which are the cultural heritage of tomorrow. Helsinki City Museum in particular has the task of giving the people of Helsinki roots and helping them form their own, unique relationship with Helsinki and identity as a Helsinki resident. As a cultural environment authority, the City Museum brings a cultural heritage perspective to the town planning process and urban development. In turn, HAM Helsinki Art Museum fosters, presents and develops art heritage.
The City Archives manage and store the City’s archive collection. Schools and other educational institutions uphold and pass on cultural heritage in their daily work. There is a lot of cross-sectoral cooperation, ranging from daycare to upper secondary education, as well as with the Työväenopisto and Arbis adult education centres.
Cultural heritage data and related services are digitalised at the same pace as the rest of society. Digital tools have opened up new opportunities for both professional cultural heritage operators and citizens. Helsinki’s tangible cultural heritage is easy to access digitally through the national Finna search service. Through Finna, the materials have been part of the pan-European Europeana service since 2021, and have thereby become part of the European cultural heritage. The City Museum’s photo collection is also accessible through the Helsinkiphotos.fi service. The freely usable high-resolution images also create preconditions for business activities.
Cultural Environment Programme
The Cultural Environment Programme is a joint policy of the City Museum and the Urban Environment Division on the consideration of cultural environments and their management and utilisation in Helsinki. The programme provides an overall view of the values of Helsinki’s cultural environments, the importance of working together and the related cultural heritage. The preparation has been carried out in consultation with and with the participation of the City’s divisions, businesses and residents. The programme will be submitted to the City Board for approval in spring 2023. The Cultural Environment Programme focuses in particular on the preservation of cultural environments and the reconciliation of the City’s other objectives, as well as on supporting residents’ independent activities in various cultural environments. Combining sustainable growth with the preservation of cultural environments is crucial. The objectives of the programme support many of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly in relation to ecological sustainability and natural environments, as well as wellbeing and sustainable tourism.
- Active participation in the production and upholding of cultural heritage and the preservation of cultural environments has significant welfare effects. Participatory forms of work are therefore utilised in all cultural heritage work. In the Adopt a Monument activities, volunteers manage archaeological sites under the guidance of the City Museum, and the Kuvasakki photography group documents the city by taking photographs. Museum grandmas and grandpas pass on cultural heritage in Children’s Town. The City Museum also works with operators often perceived as marginal. In 2021–2022, people in mental health rehabilitation were involved in exhibition production, and an exhibition entitled Hoes – Voices in Sex Work was opened in November 2022, with the materials and script based on the sex worker community’s own heritage work.
- The Cultural Environment Programme has been drawn up in close cooperation within the City and involving residents. Working together has increased Helsinki residents’ awareness of cultural environments and their values. At the same time, there has been extensive networking, emphasising the diverse values and vitality impacts of the cultural environment, and highlighting the importance of conservative repair of buildings as part of sustainable development. The vision of the programme is that the Helsinki of 2050 will be a historically interesting and sustainably changing city that values its cultural environment and where everyone can put down roots.
Areas for development:
- The challenges of regionality and diversity affect the sustainability of cultural heritage as much as the urban organisation in general.
- The Culture and Leisure Division continuously develops digital tools and working methods to make cultural heritage and experiences based on it more accessible. The Library Services offer a wide range of electronic materials and tools, advice and support for the use of digital services. The development of digital operating models and the maintenance of systems require continuous investments. Combining digital accessibility and performance expectations requires a wide range of skills.
- Those involved in highly specialised aspects of cultural heritage are often older people, and passing on their skills to the next generation is a key challenge. Volunteers often have very few resources.
Programmes and studies:
Art and Culture in Helsinki 2030: The committee’s vision for the city and its citizens, March 2020 PDF
Helsinki City Museum: Afrosuomalaisuutta tallentamassa (article in Finnish about a children’s workshop on being Afro-Finnish)