A Frugal Finland Says “No” to a Guggenheim

by Corinna Kirsch on May 8, 2012 · 1 comment Newswire

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, one of several Guggenheims.

Last week, the Helsinki City Council shot down the creation of a Guggenheim outpost in Finland's capital. Helsinki's decision appears financially sound: according to their initial concept and development study, the city would need to increase its art budget by almost 200%, and pay the Guggenheim millions of Euro over the span of three decades.

The city of Helsinki would also need to spend 140 million Euro on architecture costs, and 3.7 million Euro per year on museum maintenance. This includes a hefty 2 million Euro per year fee paid to the Guggenheim Museum Foundation for a “programming and management fee.” In addition, the city of Helsinki would spend an additional $30 million on licensing fees to the Guggenheim, spread out over 20 years. Yowza.

Since the Council's decision, Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon Guggenheim Foundation, has complained that Helsinki doesn't know what it's missing. “Are there people lining up in front of the Ateneum art museum on a weekday morning? And what about Kiasma?” Armstrong said, as reported by the Helsingin Sanomat.

By partnering with the Guggenheim, Helsinki would have joined the ranks of New York City, Bilbao, Abu Dhabi, and Berlin, all cities which have their own Guggenheim Museum. Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin will close at the end of 2012, but no concrete reason for the closure has been offered.

The Guggenheim still holds out for Helsinki to change its mind. “[W]e remain committed to the possibility of being in Helsinki,” Armstrong said over email.

  • Lucinda Piersol

    There are artists who aren’t that enthusiastic about both the architecture of recent Guggenheims and their curatorial policies as well.  I say this from a centrist position, neither Marxist nor philistine. And Don Judd thought museums relevance to contemporary art was limited, thus he set up Marfa.

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