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Plan for new Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki finally rejected

By RICCARDO BIANCHINI - December 6, 2016

The long journey toward a future Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki seems to have come to an abrupt end.

Indeed, after a harsh debate, the Helsinki City Council took the decision to withdraw its support to the project, after 53 members voted against the project and only 32 voted for it.

The city support was essential for the project, since it included the donation of a city-owned area where to build the museum plus a substantial 80-million euros grant, while the Guggenheim Foundation would have provided both the artworks to be displayed in the museum and full cultural and promotional management and support; a scheme which proved very successful in Bilbao in the 1990s, but that has not gained the same appreciation in Finland, these days. Indeed, the plan was harshly criticized by both Finnish far-left and nationalist parties.

The plan to create a new 130,000-square-foot Guggenheim museum in Helsinki was first advanced in 2011. Thereafter, an international architectural competition was organized in 2015, to which more than 1,700 entries were submitted, with the “total-black” building by Paris-based Moreau Kusunoki Architects eventually selected as winning design.

Now, it looks very unlike that the project could be revived in the future, both due to the current financial crisis and to the cold reception the Finnish public opinion reserved to the project, seen by many – especially on the right-wing side –  as too expensive and excessively prone to the interest of a “foreign institution”.

“We are disappointed that the Helsinki City Council has decided not to allocate funds for the proposed Guggenheim Helsinki museum, in effect bringing this project to a close,” Richard Armstrong, the director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, commented.



The winning design for the Guggenheim Helsinki by Moreau Kusunoki Architects. Images courtesy of The Guggenheim Foundation

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