Knut Helskog’s specific interest in rock art began in 1973 with the discovery of the large panels in Alta, Arctic Norway. He launched the investigation, documentation, and presentation of this discovery that same year and wrote the academic basis for the World Heritage application in 1983. Helskog developed an extensive approach to visitor management for the site and was instrumentally involved in the construction and development of Alta Museum in 1991. He has been a member of numerous committees involved in the protection and presentation of rock art, including the governing board of the Alta Museum to the end of 2014. He has worked extensively with the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage on major rock art projects that have included protection, documentation, conservation, sustainable presentation, and school programs. He has served as an adviser on rock art projects in Russian Karelia (1997–2008), Uzbekistan (2003–10), and Azerbaijan (2004–10).
In addition to rock art, Helskog has been responsible for organizing and managing large-scale excavations connected with development in northern Norway, including road and hydroelectric projects and oil installations. He has served as dean of Tromsø Museum (1994–96), three years leading the Department of Archaeology, and editor of the journal of Tromsø Museum. He has also undertaken archaeological research excavations in Russian Karelia and on the Kola Peninsula in northernmost Russia, in cooperation with colleagues from the Russian Academy of Sciences (1992–2000).