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Museum surveys damage to iconic statue following ice hockey celebrations

The City of Helsinki will consider ways to better protect the Havis Amanda statue.

Celebrants climbed on the Havis Amanda statue in downtown Helsinki on Sunday night and Monday morning after Finland's ice hockey win. Image: Jouko Kallio

Surveyors will assess if any damage was caused to the iconic Havis Amanda statue in downtown Helsinki on Sunday night and Monday morning as ice hockey fans celebrated Finland winning the world championship.

The City of Helsinki had erected plywood fences to protect the statue, which has become a popular place for people to gather and celebrate Finnish success— usually after a win in international sports—by climbing the statue and swimming in the fountain.

However, the fences were knocked down as thousands of people converged on the market square. In addition, security personnel hired by the city to protect the statue were unable to control the crowd, some of whom climbed and hung onto the piece of cultural heritage.

The statue will be inspected thoroughly in the coming days to determine the extent of any possible damage, although an initial inspection showed it was in good condition, according to Helsinki Art Museum (HAM) director Maija Tanninen-Mattila.

However, Tanninen-Mattila told Yle she is concerned that a part of the statue will break or suffer damages that cannot be repaired.

"The statue should be preserved for future generations,” she said.

The statue was cast in Paris more than a century ago, and has several fragile parts, including in particular the neck and the wrists, which could prove especially prone to snapping under stress, Tanninen-Mattila noted.

The statue and fountain will be renovated in the coming years, but the museum director remained skeptical about whether they can be made "celebration-proof".

Tanninen-Mattila added that it would be very challenging - if not impossible - to somehow strengthen the bronze sculpture in a way that would preserve its unique original elements, and thus maintain its artistic value.

Climbing will be prohibited

The City of Helsinki said it wants to prohibit climbing on the statue in the future, in order to protect both the statue and the celebrants.

Laura Aaltola, director of the culture division at the City said that solutions are currently being sought to protect it.

“We cannot allow people to climb on it. It’s a matter of safety, as well as preserving the sculpture for future generations,” Aaltola said.