“Reaction against globalism”: Helsinki axes Guggenheim plan

A long-running campaign to build a Guggenheim art museum in Helsinki has ended in defeat after the city’s council voted against the proposal over concerns of excessive cost to the Finnish taxpayer.

Councillors voted 53-32 on 1 December against the proposal first made in 2011 by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, over-riding arguments that the museum would boost tourism and boost jobs during construction.

The museum was to cost an estimated €130m, with the City of Helsinki providing €80m of that, the Guggenheim Foundation contributing €15m, and the remainder coming from a loan obtained by a jointly owned company.

I suppose that it was a reaction to a sense of engulfing internationalism– Richard Armstrong, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

Aside from the cost to taxpayers, city council members objected to a lack of private funding and the use of the proposed site, which was considered too valuable for the project, the city said.

The decision disappointed the foundation, and a spokesman blamed anti-globalisation sentiment for the the decision.

Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation in New York, told the New York Times: "I suppose that it was a reaction to a sense of engulfing internationalism, or a reaction against globalism. That’s how I’m explaining it to myself."

Moreau Kusunoki, a Paris-based architect, won an international competition to design the museum in June 2015 (render pictured).

The museum proposal has been a hot political issue in Finland since the proposal was first made. Right-wing politicians backed the plan, while left-wing and green decision makers were against it, GCR contributor and architect Aarni Heiskanen, wrote in 2014.

It was first voted down by the Helsinki City Board in 2012, prompting the Guggenheim Foundation to come up with a new proposal with reduced costs.

The Finnish government decided in September 2016 that it would not fund the museum, leading to a new proposal in November this year, which the city council has now rejected, saying the project would be discontinued.

Image: Moreau Kusunoki, a Paris-based architect, won an open competition to design the Helsinki Guggenheim museum in June 2015 (Guggenheim Foundation)

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