Guggenheim Foundation gives nod to Helsinki over new museum construction


HELSINKI–The foundation that administers the iconic Guggenheim museums has given Helsinki the go-ahead to build a state-of-the-art museum, city officials said Tuesday. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation handed over its concept and development study to city officials on Tuesday, proposing that a new museum be built at a cost of 140 million euros (US$179 million). “A Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki would benefit the whole Finnish museum and arts field,” Helsinki mayor Jussi Pajunen said during the handover ceremony. Helsinki city council must still vote on the issue, but Pajunen said a Guggenheim museum would boost the city’s cultural credentials. “It would strengthen Helsinki’s position as a Nordic cultural capital and bring more cultural tourists to Helsinki from Finland, Scandinavia, Russia, the Baltic States and other parts of the world,” he added. Guggenheim’s world-famous network includes museums in New York, Bilbao, Berlin and Venice, while another establishment is currently being built in Abu Dhabi. According to the study, a Helsinki Guggenheim museum would “play a unique role in testing new approaches and technologies” for the benefit of the global museum network. A Helsinki Guggenheim would primarily be a non-collecting institution, incorporating some typical elements of an art museum, while “pushing the boundaries of process, presentation and audience engagement,” the report said. If a formal decision is taken to move ahead, an international competition would be held to select the architect for the new museum.

The study recommended a city-owned location along the south harbour waterfront. “We undertook this work in the conviction that the information and insight it would produce could be of great value for Helsinki and the Guggenheim,” said Richard Armstrong, the director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation.