Guggenheim director back in Helsinki to revive plans for a museum
Richard Armstrong and senior staff are meeting government officials this week to discuss Finnish branch
By Hanne Cecilie Gulstad. Web only
Published online: 08 August 2013
The director of New York’s Guggenheim Foundation, Richard Armstrong, and senior colleagues are in Helsinki this week to try and revive plans to open a branch in the Finnish capital. Last year, the city council scrapped the project over concerns about the cost and a proposed merger with the Helsinki Art Museum.
A statement from the Guggenheim Foundation confirms that Armstrong and the deputy director, Ari Wiseman, held talks this week with officials from the Finnish government and the city of Helsinki, as well as with representatives of the arts and business communities. “Topics that were mentioned during our discussion were the exclusion of the Helsinki Art Museum from the proposal, the possible sites, and funding,” says Jussi Pajunen, the mayor of Helsinki, who has long supported the project.
The Guggenheim intends to put forward a new proposal early this autumn, Pajunen says.
In 2011, the Helsinki city officials announced that were working with the Guggenheim Foundation to explore the possibility of creating a new branch of the international museum in Finland. The feasibility study was presented in January last year and it recommended building the museum at a central location in Helsinki’s South Harbor. But the proposal was narrowly rejected by the city board that May.
Ville Ylikahri, the chairman of Helsinki's Green Party, told us at the time that opposition from the public and the local art scene was an important factor in the decision, as well as concerns about costs (The Art Newspaper, June 2012, p26). Only one in five people in Helsinki supported the Guggenheim plans, he said.
The Guggenheim Foundation is expected to have a meeting later this week with the cultural minister Paavo Archinmäki, who had earlier made it clear that there would be no state money for the project.
The mayor of Helsinki remains optimistic, however. “I feel that it is very positive that an important international cultural institution such as the Guggenheim Foundation shows an interest to Helsinki as a potential location for a new museum,” Pajunen says. “This would greatly increase tourist interest and strengthen Helsinki as a cultural city.”
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