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Aerial view of the Helsinki harbor, marked with the potential site of the Guggenheim Helsinki
Aerial view of the Helsinki harbor, marked with the potential site of the Guggenheim Helsinki

HENRY O. TANNER IN PHILADELPHIA

Jan. 10, 2012

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Plans for a new Guggenheim satellite museum in Helsinki took a stride forward today. A year-long study on the project -- commissioned by the city and presented by a Guggenheim team to Helsinki mayor Jussi Pajunen on Jan. 10, 2012 -- determined that a Guggenheim Helsinki "would make a distinct contribution to Finland's cultural landscape" (in the apparently carefully chosen words of the museum press announcement).

The Guggenheim study envisions a 129,000-square-foot museum (with 42,000 square feet devoted to gallery space) on a plot of city-owned land on Helsinki’s South Harbor waterfront, where a terminal building presently stands. The cost of design and construction is put at Ä140 million, or $178 million. The study anticipates that the new museum could draw more than 500,000 visitors a year, with 300,000 of them from Finland. The Guggenheim Helsinki, whose mission would not overlap with existing institutions, is envisioned as a museum with a strong emphasis on architecture and design.

The next step is approval of the proposal by the city -- a decision could come in a month or two -- and then by the Guggenheim board. The design of the museum itself is to be determined via an international competition.

“It’s one of those courtship moments when you look and one another and say let’s see how we can complement each other,” Guggenheim director Richard Armstrong told the New York Times. “It’s a big next step.’’

Most importantly, perhaps, the Guggenheim Helsinki could give the city "a signature space that symbolizes Helsinki's aspirations to be a cultural capital." Though the city has some 70 art galleries, it lacks a major collection of modern art. If approved, and all goes according to plan, the new museum could open in 2018.

The Guggenheim Helsinki research group, from left, Janne Gallen-Kallela-Siren, Tuula Haatainen, Richard Armstrong, Jussi Pajunen and Ari Wiseman
The Guggenheim Helsinki research group, from left, Janne Gallen-Kallela-Siren, Tuula Haatainen, Richard Armstrong, Jussi Pajunen and Ari Wiseman

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