Solar abundances have been historically assumed to be representative of cosmic abundances. However, our knowledge of the solar abundance of helium, the second most abundant element, relies mainly on models1 and indirect measurements through helioseismic observations2, because actual measurements of helium in the solar atmosphere are very scarce. Helium cannot be directly measured in the photosphere because of its high first ionization potential, and measurements of its abundance in the inner corona have been sporadic3,4. In this Letter, we present simultaneous global images of the helium (out to a heliocentric distance of 3R⊙ (solar radii)) and hydrogen emission in the solar corona during the minimum of solar activity of cycle 23 and directly derive the helium abundance in the streamer region and surrounding corona (out to 2.2R⊙). The morphology of the He+ corona is markedly different from that of the H corona, owing to significant spatial variations in helium abundance. The observations show that the helium abundance is shaped according to and modulated by the structure of the large-scale coronal magnetic field and that helium is almost completely depleted in the equatorial regions during the quiet Sun. This measurement provides a trace back to the coronal source of the anomalously slow solar wind observed in the heliosphere at the Sun-Earth Lagrangian point L1 in 2009, during the exceptionally long-lasting minimum of solar activity cycle 23.