Helsinki Guggenheim Proposal Thrown Out By Politicians

On 2 May, city politicians in Helsinki voted against the proposal for a new Guggenheim Museum in the Finnish capital.  The project was initially suggested in January by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, which currently has museums in New York, Bilbao, Berlin, Venice, and a project underway in Abu Dhabi. 

The proposal coincided with the plans to develop Helsinki’s harbour, and the Foundation felt that the proposed museum would fill a perceived cultural gap in Finland.  The proposal outlined a timeline including three years of development and an international architectural competition, with an anticipated completion of 2018.  While a museum may inspire cultural redevelopment and a tourist boom (as occurred in 1998 with Frank Gehry’s Bilbao Guggenheim), the 140 million euro project  may be too ambitious in uncertain economic conditions.  Due to the large cost of building a new museum, municipal officials voted eight to seven to reject the proposal.

Issues of cost and management of the institution have been seen throughout the expansion of the Guggenheim reign in the art world, and it’s likely this contributed to the decision.  Paavo Arhinmaki, the national cultural minister, estimated that Finnish citizens would have to provide 100 million euros towards the construction.  The decision was rather unceremoniously announced on the city website with the statement, “The City Board rejects the project.”  While this is the end for Guggenheim expansion in the north, the Abu Dhabi project is still underway, though now with a delayed completion date in 2017.

Words: Emily Sack © 2012 ArtLyst

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