Guggenheim Foundation Presents a New Proposal for a Guggenheim Helsinki

Guggenheim Foundation Presents a New Proposal for a Guggenheim Helsinki

Download a PDF of this news release in English or Finnish.

(HELSINKI, Finland – September 24, 2013) — Before an audience representing a cross-section of Helsinki’s cultural, civic, and business communities, leaders of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation today shared a revised proposal for developing a Guggenheim museum in Helsinki. The purpose of the event was to inform the people of Helsinki and of Finland about the Guggenheim’s latest thinking about the project in order to inaugurate an extended period of public discussion and propose an architectural competition as the next step.

Richard Armstrong, Director of the Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, and Ari Wiseman, Deputy Director, led the presentation at the Media Centre Lume of Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture.

Armstrong stated, “We remain steadfastly committed to exploring the development of a new museum in Helsinki, with its rich legacy of art, design, and architecture. A city that bridges the East and the West, poised at the nexus of the Nordic and Baltic regions, Helsinki is the capital of a nation that honors education and culture as the foundation of its international success. Having revised our proposal after consultation with a range of stakeholders in Helsinki and in Finland, we look forward to the public forums that will now ensue, in the expectation that a full and frank discussion will help move this important project toward realization.”

It is the Guggenheim’s hope that the City Board will decide before the end of 2013 on a measure to allocate the proposed site for the purpose of the architectural competition. Following the conclusion of the competition and the public announcement of the winning design, a second decision on whether to proceed with the construction of the building and the pre-opening phase of the museum would be brought to the City of Helsinki and the Finnish State for consideration.

Key Facts about the Revised Proposal

As in the original proposal, formally presented in January 2012, a Guggenheim Helsinki is envisioned as having a strong focus on Nordic and international architecture and design and their intersection with other forms of modern and contemporary art. Located on Helsinki’s waterfront, the museum would serve as a central gathering place and year-round focus of culture for city residents and as a premier destination for international visitors. The museum would feature programs organized by the Guggenheim Foundation that might not otherwise be seen in Finland; offer groundbreaking exhibitions of artworks from the 20th and 21st centuries; and reach beyond the nation’s borders by generating exhibitions that could be presented at other Guggenheim museums and institutions around the world.

Following is a summary of the key changes to the original proposal:

Financial Model

• Demonstrating its confidence in the project and a financial stake in its success, the Guggenheim has reduced its annual operations fee and tied that number to the achievement of a set goal for yearly attendance.
• The licensing fee will be funded by private sources.
• The proposal includes a 10 percent decrease in annual operating costs and a 4 percent increase in annual revenue.
• The proposal includes several potential funding models for further discussion and consideration by City and State leadership.
• A Guggenheim Helsinki is expected to bring 41 million euros in annual economic impact, creating 103-111 jobs at the museum itself and 340-380 jobs elsewhere in the State as well as generating a net total of 3 million euros in additional annual tax revenue benefiting Finland, Helsinki, and other cities in the surrounding area.


• The site under consideration for the new museum building is located along the southwestern edge of the South Harbor, near the intersection of Eteläranta and Laivasillankatu and adjacent to the Olympia Terminal.
• Bordered by the Kaartinkaupunki and Ullanlinna districts, the proposed site is close to significant civic buildings, green spaces, and premier cultural destinations in the center city. It is well served by a variety of public transportation options and would draw pedestrian traffic from shops and restaurants in the surrounding neighborhoods.
• The proposed site would be approximately 13,000 square meters. The museum building would occupy 12,000 square meters of that area and would include approximately 4,000 square meters of exhibition space, making its galleries comparable in size to those of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Museum Operating Structure, Exhibitions, and Education Programs

• A Guggenheim Helsinki would be a stand-alone institution. The Helsinki Art Museum is no longer connected to the project.
• The museum would make additional opportunities available to Finnish artists by providing new international audiences with greater access to their work. Finnish artists also would be represented on governing boards and various committees as well as any juries relevant to the museum’s programming.
• Educational programs at the museum would build on Finland’s outstanding accomplishments in this field, providing a wide array of opportunities for children and adults from the region as well as international visitors to expand their experience of the visual arts.
• A permanent collection, reflective of the museum’s exhibition program, would be developed over time.

Architectural Competition

• A fully funded architectural competition for the new building would be conducted through an open and international process.
• Submissions from a wide-ranging group of architects and designers from Finland and around the world would be encouraged, including those from young and emerging architects as well as the most established figures in the field.
• The top proposals, as determined by a jury composed of representatives of the Guggenheim, the City of Helsinki, and the State of Finland, would be displayed in an exhibition, where members of the public would be encouraged to compare the designs and share their opinions.
• The jury would present its decision at a public assembly in Helsinki.

Public Engagement

The Guggenheim looks forward to the upcoming public discussions and encourages all interested parties to share their thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Public discussion also will continue through “Guggenheim Helsinki Live,” a series of free programs and informal discussions that will take place in Helsinki throughout October. For more information, the public is invited to visit the project’s website at

To download the revised proposal in English, go to

More information:

Tina Vaz
Director of Communications, Global Initiatives
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Phone 212 360 4284

Jukka-Pekka Myllys
Director Miltton
Phone +358 45 673 3056

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