In 1947 Eero Snellman, an artist who once lived in Paris for a number of years, proposed that an international artists' centre be established in Paris. Click here for his speech in Paris appealing for this.

A centre named the Cité Internationale des Arts financed by the City of Paris was finally established in 1965. Many countries procured studio flats for their artists at the new centre and a Finnish Foundation was set up in Helsinki in 1960.

According to the by-laws, the purpose of the Foundation is "to procure studio flats at the Cité for artists living in Finland and to place, on as moderate terms as possible, these flats at the disposal of persons engaged in the pursuit of visual art, music, industrial art and architecture." The Foundation's charter was signed in May 1960 by many notable figures in Finnish culture and politics.

The first Finnish artists awarded residencies at the new centre in Paris for the period 1965-66 were violinists Erkki Kantola, Seija Salmiala and Ilkka Talvi, sculptress Laila Pullinen, painters Ernst Mether-Borgström, Ahti Lavonen and Kauko Lehtinen, and interior decorator Reino Ojanen.

The Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris nowadays has a total of 326 studio flats occupied by artists from 90 countries. Over the years the number of Finnish workshops at the Cité has grown to nine. Three eminent Finns – Eero Snellman, Jean Sibelius and Mirjam Helin – have workshops named after them. In purchasing studio flats the Foundation has received sizeable donations from many private sponsors, funds and communities.

Thanks to the Foundation, over 1000 Finnish representatives of visual art, music, dance, industrial art and architecture have so far had a chance to live and work in the heart of Paris, to observe other arts in their own working environments and to exchange ideas with artists of different nationalities. For a list of all the Finnish Cité residents to date click here.