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.

Rectors

Rectors

Rectors

The rectors of the Academy of Fine Arts and its predecessors (Suomen taideakatemia and Suomen taideyhdistyksen piirustuskoulu) have been well-known artists and influential players in the arts world.  

Bernd A. Godenhjelm 1848-69
Carl (Eneas) Sjöstrand 1863-81 ja 1902
Fredrik Ahlstedt 1881-93
Elin Danielson 1894-95
Theodor Decker (tarkastaja) 1895-97
Albert Gebhard 1897-1907
Väinö Blomstedt 1907-18
Yrjö Ollila 1918-21
Alvar Cawen vt. 1920-22
Uuno Alanko 1923-39
Per (Åke) Laurén 1939-41
Aarre Heinonen 1941-56
Erkki Koponen 1956-65
Tapani Jokela 1965-73
Göran Augustson 1973-74
Jaakko Sievänen 1974-83
Matti Kujasalo 1983-88
Juhana Blomstedt 1987-88
Lauri Anttila 1988-94
Outi Heiskanen 1994-95
Ilkka Juhani Takalo-Eskola 1995-97
Erkki Soininen 1997-2000
Mika Hannula 2000-05
Mauri Ylä-Kotola 2005-06
Maria Hirvi-Ijäs 2007-09
Markus Konttinen 2010-12