Will Helsinki Get its Guggenheim After All?

The deputy mayor will present an amended funding plan on Monday.

A rendering of the winning design by Moreau Kusunoki Architects. Photo Courtesy: Design Guggenheim Helsinki.
A rendering of the winning design by Moreau Kusunoki Architects, which will now never be built. Photo courtesy Design Guggenheim Helsinki.

Those behind Guggenheim Helsinki are going for a third push in an effort to ensure the project goes ahead after a series of setbacks and vetoes.

The new proposal takes financial pressure off the Finnish government, instead gathering funds from private investment and borrowing.

Of the overall cost of $144 million, the City of Helsinki will cover $89 million with the remaining $55 million covered by loans and private donations, which will be paid back by a group called the Guggenheim Helsinki Supporting Foundation.

The group have also negotiated a $10 million discount in the licensing payment required by the Guggenheim Foundation, reducing it from $30 million to $20 million. This cost will now be met in its entirety by private donations, which have already been secured by the Supporting Foundation.

Details from the winning Guggenheim Helsinki design. Photo Courtesy: Design Guggenheim Helsinki.

Details from the winning Guggenheim Helsinki design. Photo courtesy Design Guggenheim Helsinki.

The plan to save the project after it was vetoed by the Finnish government earlier this year was conceived and headed up by Helsinki’s deputy mayor, Ritva Viljanen, and will be presented at a board meeting on November 7.

“Our goal was to find a feasible plan that would not place the full financial burden of the museum construction on the city of Helsinki and would keep the city of Helsinki’s responsibility for financing the same as it was with government involvement,” Viljanen said in a statement.

Rendering of the museum restaurant with view of the harbour. Photo Courtesy: Design Guggenheim Helsinki

Rendering of the museum restaurant with view of the harbor. Photo courtesy Design Guggenheim Helsinki.

The waterside construction of the museum—designed by Moreau Kusunoki Architects—will now be managed by a real estate company set up for the purpose by Helsinki and the Guggenheim Helsinki Supporting Foundation and, in line with this latest proposal, would be leased to the company responsible for the running of the museum, a Finnish non-profit.

The management and maintenance of the museum would be the responsibility of the museum.

The hopes are that this delicate balance will put the project back on track in a process that has been in motion since 2011, when the Guggenheim Foundation asked the mayor of Helsinki to complete a feasibility study.

“I did not expect the project to take so many twists and turns,” Ari Wiseman, deputy director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, told the Art Newspaper. “It took 16 years to get the Guggenheim built in New York. We are accustomed to things taking a little longer,” he added.

The Finnish economy has been struggling in recent years, meaning that the Guggenheim project was cut from the national budget in September.

Some locals players have expressed the thought that Helsinki does not need a large international institution, while others believe that the museum entice tourists and benefit the art scene in Finland.


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