Helsinki Split Over €130 Million Guggenheim Plan

The Finnish capital finds itself divided over the plans to build a Guggenheim satellite on the Baltic Sea waterfront, New York Times reports. The plan is the newest project in Guggenheim’s aggressive international effort to expand from its current locations in New York, Venice, and Bilbao. A satellite museum is also due to open in Abu Dhabi in 2017. Politicians in Helsinki are split on the financial front between those seeking the wealth and attention of an international brand and those concerned about shouldering the costs of development.

“We have to promote Helsinki, and that’s why we need some international brands like the Guggenheim,” Jussi Pajunen, Helsinki’s mayor and the project’s chief promoter, told the New York Times. But critics are skeptical over whether or not the brand name is worth the €130 million ($177 million) price tag.

“This is like we are buying a Louis Vuitton bag because it is a famous brand—we need our own brands,” said Kaarin Taipale, a co-author of In the Shadow of Guggenheim, which analyzed the Helsinki project. “The financing numbers have raised a lot of questions. They say we have different alternatives, but all are based on spending public money.”

The project was rejected in a close vote in 2012 because of financial concerns, but now is being reconsidered after the Guggenheim returned with a modified proposal that addressed some of the criticism.The decision will ultimately depend largely on the results of the yearlong open international architectural competition that started in June. The designs are all expected to incorporate natural Finnish wood in some way.

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