Helsinki City Council Rejects the Plans to Build Guggenheim Helsinki Art Museum

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Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Richard Armstrong visited Helsinki on September 24, 2013. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Richard Armstrong visited Helsinki on September 24, 2013. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

The Helsinki City Council rejected the proposal for building the Guggenheim Helsinki art museum.

The council voted 53-32 against the project on Wednesday night.

Before reaching the final decision, the council of 85 members discussed the subject for over five and half hours, using over 170 opportunities to speak.

The final decision means that the proposed plan to build the Guggenheim museum will be folded.

“I suppose that it was a reaction to a sense of engulfing internationalism, or a reaction against globalism,” said Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation in New York. “That’s how I’m explaining it to myself.”

The main objections to the project presented by the council members included the project’s excessive cost for the Finnish taxpayer; inadequate private funding; and the proposed site, the South Harbour, which was considered too valuable for the project.

The estimated construction cost of the Guggenheim Helsinki museum was 130 million euros. The City of Helsinki would fund the construction with up to 80 million euros and the Guggenheim Helsinki Supporting Foundation with 15 million euros.

Arguments in favor of building the art museum included Helsinki’s increasing international appeal owing to the museum; the project’s positive impact on employment during construction; and an increasing interest in Finnish visual arts and a positive impact on the Finnish visual arts scene internationally.

Moreau Kusunoki Architectes, a French firm based in Paris, won the design competition of Guggenheim Helsinki art museum. Illustration: Moreau Kusunoki Architectes

Moreau Kusunoki Architectes, a French firm based in Paris, won the design competition of Guggenheim Helsinki art museum. Illustration: Moreau Kusunoki Architectes

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation presented a proposal for a Guggenheim Helsinki museum to the City of Helsinki in 2011. The proposal was voted down by the Helsinki City Board in 2012, after which the Guggenheim Foundation made a new proposal and co-organized and financed a design competition for the museum building held in 2014–2015. The winning design was by Moreau Kusunoki Architectes.

After the Finnish Government announced in September 2016 that it would not fund the Guggenheim Helsinki project, the City of Helsinki and the Guggenheim Helsinki Supporting Foundation presented in early November a new proposal for establishing the art museum.