Amos Rex Art Museum, Helsinki – JKMM Architects
Amos Rex is a privately-funded art museum in Helsinki, Finland, also known for its futuristic underground expansion by JKMM Architects.
The Amos Rex art museum in Helsinki; photo © Tuomas Uusheimo.
History and architecture
The museum, previously known as Amos Anderson Art Museum, was opened in 1965 to publicly showcase the collection of Finnish newspaper magnate Amos Anderson.
In 2018, the museum moved to a 13,000-square-meter complex consisting of a functionalist-style building designed by architects Viljo Revell, Heimo Riihimäki, and Niilo Kokko in the 1930s – called Lasipalatsi (Glass Palace) -, a restored cinema, and a beautiful subterranean building designed by Helsinki-based JKMM Architects.
A part of the Lasipalatsi historical building, now completely restored, accommodates the museum’s lobby, a shop, administration offices, a cafe, and a restaurant, while the former Bio Rex cinema hall was converted into a 590-seat theater/auditorium.
The expansion is a 2,200-square-meter (23,680-square-foot) two-story building completely buried underground, which occupies the site of a former bus station.
A sequence of funnel-shaped skylights pours daylight into the sunken galleries.
The gently undulated roof of the expansion is also a public square, very popular among children and teens, dominated by an old chimney dating back to 1936.
Internally, the main gallery is a large column-free exhibition space topped by a reinforced concrete dome covered by hundreds of white disks which turn it into a sort of giant projection screen for immersive multimedia installations.
Overall, the expansion contains three galleries (one for the museum’s permanent exhibition and two for special exhibitions), workshops, artwork storage spaces, and visitor facilities.
Amos Rex, site plan; image © JKMM Architects.
A close-up view of the iconic “nozzles” of the underground expansion; photo © Mika Huisman.
The 1936 Lasipalatsi building and the Bio Rex cinema (on the right); photo © Tuomas Uusheimo.
The installation “Massless” by teamLab at the Amox Rex museum, 2018-2019; photo © Tuomas Uusheimo.
Collection and exhibitions
Originally dedicated to Finnish and Swedish art of the 19th century and 20th centuries, the museum is now also focused on international contemporary art.
As previously mentioned, the Amos Rex’s collection (which is largely based on the collection of the former Amos Anderson Art Museum) mostly consists of Finnish post-impressionist artworks. A small number of pieces from the collection are displayed on a rotational basis in a dedicated gallery.
The institution’s program of special exhibitions is mainly focused on modern and contemporary international art and, since the museum’s opening in September 2018, has featured two site-specific installations by Japanese art collective teamLAB and by Amsterdam-based collective Studio Drift and the first retrospective in Finland of Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte.
Amos Rex also organizes guided tours, educational programs, art workshops, and special events.
Studio Drift, Drifter; “Studio Drift: Elemental” exhibition, Amos Rex, 2019; photo © Stella Ojala.
The Amos Rex expansion at night; photo © Angel Gil.
Volumetric diagram, cross sections, 2nd-floor plan, and elevations of the Amos Rex museum, images © JKMM Architects.
Interior views of the Bio Rex cinema and the Lasipalatsi building; photos © Tuomas Uusheimo.
Interior view of the expansion by JKMM Architects; photo © Tuomas Uusheimo.
Cover image: the Amos Rex art museum in Helsinki, photo © Mika Huisman.
All photos are courtesy of Amos Rex.
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