HELSINKI: Finland has revived plans for a new Guggenheim museum on the Helsinki waterfront, raising chances for the capital to exploit the Guggenheim brand and join the big league of art destinations such as New York and Bilbao.
Helsinki’s city board decided this week to let the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation hold an architectural contest for a new museum, though it has yet to overturn an earlier vote against the project.
The city narrowly rejected a plan for a 140 million euro ($191 million) museum in May 2012, due to worries that much of the expense would be borne by taxpayers at a time of budget cuts and slow economic growth.
Proponents of a new Helsinki Guggenheim are hoping the competition will help bolster popular support for the project, which they say could help city to become a major art destination for tourists.
Government officials gave their endorsement to the project Tuesday.
“The competition result will visualise what the Guggenheim Helsinki would look like,” said Lasse Mannisto, a city board member and MP for the conservative National Coalition party. A decision on whether to go ahead is due to be made as early as spring 2015.
Jan Vapaavuori, the economy minister, also backed the competition.
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed the original Guggenheim Museum’s snail-shell structure in New York. Frank Gehry’s titanium-clad design for the Guggenheim in Bilbao helped transform the city into an art and architectural destination in what is called the “ Bilbao effect.”
Solomon Guggenheim (1861-1949) was a U.S. businessman and art collector.
Helsinki will reserve space near the harbor-front market and ferry terminal that is being used as a parking lot for a potential site.
The Guggenheim has said that Helsinki lacks a significant modern art collection, a gap it said the museum could help fill. It has also said it would focus on Nordic and international architecture and design. Critics say scarce public resources should go instead to existing museums.