The Academy of Fine Arts is an international academy focusing on the fine arts – the only one of its kind in Finland. It offers first-class instruction in Moving Image, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Site and situation specific art and Sculpture, and is a pioneer in artistic research. The Academy of Arts has trained artists since 1848.
The Academy of Fine Arts and its traditions are a significant part of the history of Finnish art education and, in a broader perspective, the history of Finnish art. The first predecessor of the Academy of Fine Arts was the Finnish Art Society's Drawing School, established in 1848. Among the students of the Drawing School were the first Finnish artists of national and international importance: from Albert Edelfelt to Axel Gallén, from Helene Schjerfbeck to Ellen Thesleff.
From 1939, the Academy operated under the Fund of the Fine Arts Academy of Finland and was known as the School of the Fine Arts Academy of Finland. The school became state-owned in 1985, and at the same time the name was changed to the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts. Being brought under state governance strengthened the status of the Academy as the highest institution providing education in the arts in Finland. The Finnish Academy of Fine Arts became an institution of higher education in 1993 and a university in 1998. In accordance with the new Finnish Universities Act that entered into force in Finland in the beginning of 2009, the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts became a public university.
The Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, Sibelius Academy and Theatre Academy Helsinki merged at the beginning of 2013 into an arts university, in English called the University of the Arts Helsinki.