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Unfolding public art book discusses the role of public art at Aalto University

Why does the university acquire art? What is the role of art collections that follow the percentage principle on a university campus? Unfolding public art book explores the principles, acquisition, challenges and opportunities of the university's public art collections.
Front and back covers of book called Unfolding Public Art. Text in red, book covers in sand colour.
Unfolding public art book covers in view. Book layout design by Ilona Ilottu/Dog Design. Photo: Aalto University/Outi Turpeinen

The book Unfolding public art was published on May 30 2023 as part of a seminar on the role of public art at Aalto University. The book was edited by Outi Turpeinen, Manager, art and exhibitions at Aalto University.

'Public art in the context of a university requires the courage to face changing challenges with agility, creativity and passion. In the university's experimental environment, it is possible to test works that do not yet exist elsewhere, because nothing new could happen without experimentation', says Turpeinen.

A screenshot of a fold in Unfolding public art book. Depicting the layout of the book.
Screenshot from the book. Unfolding public art takes a closer look at some of the artworks from the collection. Image: Aalto University/Outi Turpeinen

Unfolding public art consists of nine thematic articles, bringing into discussion the aspects of wellbeing, business, design, aesthetics and curation in terms of public art. The book is published by Aalto ARTS Books, and it is available via Aalto University Shop in print and as an e-book.

The vision of public art at Aalto University   

In 2017, Aalto University decided to comply with a one per cent art principle in its building projects.

Depicting the layout of Engineering Materials public art competition insert in Unfolding public art book.
One section of the book focuses on Engineering Materials art competition. Image: Aalto University/Outi Turpeinen

The one per cent art principle was first applied to the Radical Nature art concept in Aalto University’s main building, Dipoli. The vision of public art at Aalto University is to address and raise questions about what it is to be a university, what we do together in society, and what constitutes the public. 

Public art is site-specific and connects with the diversity of the university and its post-disciplinary communities. Public artworks reflect this diversity through different art forms, materials, techniques and traditions.  

'Unfolding public art' authors

  • Mariana Amatullo, member of the Aalto University Foundation Board, Associate Professor at Parsons School of Design, Vice Provost and Academic Dean for Continuing and Professional Education at The New School, New York.
  • Arild Berg, Professor of Artistic Reseach at Oslo Metropolitan
  • Veikko Halmetoja, art critic, curator and gallerist 
  • Pekka Mattila, Associate Professor of Practice at the Aalto University School of Business, a Member of the Board of the Finnish National Gallery
  • Ossi Naukkarinen, Vice President for Research and Professor of Aesthetics at Aalto University
  • Susanna Pettersson, CEO of Finnish Culture Foundation (from 1 June 2023), and Adjunct Professor in Museology
  • Outi Turpeinen, Manager of Strategic Exhibitions and Public Art Collections at Aalto University 
  • Anna Valtonen, Professor of Strategic Design at Aalto University


You can find the book here

More information 
Outi Turpeinen, Manager, art & exhibitions
[email protected],puh. 050 431 4194 

Role of public art at Aalto University

Sign up for the seminar latest 12 May

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