In 1962, Sara Hildén donated the works of art that she owned to the foundation that was named after her. The core of the collection was composed of the early works (from the period 1945–1963) of the painter Erik Enroth (1917–1975). The foundation's collection contains 537 works by Erik Enroth.
Finland’s postwar efforts to get the country back on its feet inspired Erik Enroth to paint workers and factories. These depictions emphasize the rigour of the work and the physical efforts of the workers. Erik Enroth married Sara Hildén in 1949. He had a studio in the Commerce building on Tampere Central Square, and he used local motifs such as factory scenes and cityscapes in his works. Enroth made several ink drawings of the factory halls on the Tampella site and the workers in them. He used these drawings as sketches for his paintings. Among the other local Tampere subjects that he used were scenes from the Pyynikki district, Tampella Power Station and the Old Church on Central Square.
Erik Enroth's idiom has been described as expressionist and cubist. Motifs that were close to him, such as depictions of factories and workers, urban scenes, landscapes, portraits, still lifes and, scenes from the circus and sporting events are recurrent themes in his oeuvre. Enroth was an extremely productive artist, and he was capable of spending several years on a single work. He travelled a lot, including trips to Spain and the United States. In Spain, Enroth was captivated not only by the mountain scenery but also by the local culture, and he was inspired to paint flamenco dancers, bullfights and Spanish harvesters.
In his still life paintings, Enroth repeatedly used the motif of the ox skull; sometimes it is bloody and brutal, while in other paintings it has worn to a delicate pale yellow. Enroth was fascinated by death as the antithesis of the carnal and vigorous nature of life. The numerous paintings that Enroth made with a circus motif in the 1940s and 1950s constitute a particularly interesting group in his oeuvre. In his paintings of the circus milieu, Enroth emphasizes the dark side of the entertainment world, the harlequin worn out by hard work.