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Guggenheim Study


Proposal for Guggenheim Helsinki art museum voted down by the City Council

The Helsinki City Council rejected the latest proposal for establishing the Guggenheim Helsinki art museum at the Council meeting today. The Council voted 53-32 against the proposal.

The City Council decision means that the project to construct and develop the proposed Guggenheim Helsinki art museum will be discontinued.

Arguments in favour of the project presented by Council members included Helsinki’s increasing international appeal owing to the museum; the project’s positive impact on employment during construction; and an increasing interest in Finnish visual arts and a positive impact on the Finnish visual arts scene internationally.

The main objections to the project presented by Council members included the project’s excessive cost for the Finnish taxpayer; inadequate private funding; and the proposed site, which was considered too valuable for the project.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation presented a proposal for a Guggenheim Helsinki museum to the City of Helsinki in 2011. The proposal was voted down by the Helsinki City Board in 2012, after which the Guggenheim Foundation made a new proposal and co-organized and financed a design competition for the museum building held in 2014–2015. The winning design was by Moreau Kusunoki Architectes.

After the Finnish Government announced in September 2016 that it would not fund the Guggenheim Helsinki project, the City of Helsinki and the Guggenheim Helsinki Supporting Foundation presented in early November a new proposal for establishing the art museum.

The latest proposal for Guggenheim Helsinki and the earlier phases of the project:


Helsinki and Supporting Foundation Propose New Plan for Establishing Guggenheim Helsinki Museum

The City Board of Helsinki will be presented next Monday with a new proposal for establishing a Guggenheim museum in Helsinki.

The City of Helsinki has prepared the proposal in cooperation with the Guggenheim Helsinki Supporting Foundation. For the City, proposal preparation has been led by Deputy Mayor Ritva Viljanen responsible for Cultural Affairs.

The preparation of a new proposal was undertaken after the Finnish Government announced in connection of the autumn budget talks that the Government would not finance the museum investment.

“Our goal was to find a feasible plan that would not place the full financial burden of the museum construction on the City of Helsinki and would keep the City of Helsinki’s responsibility for financing the same as it was with Government involvement,” Viljanen says.

“We have now found an approach to implement the museum project that allows us to present the matter to City decision-makers.”

City to invest 80 million in the construction

The estimated construction cost of the Guggenheim Helsinki museum is 130 million euros. The City of Helsinki would fund the construction with up to 80 million euros and the Guggenheim Helsinki Supporting Foundation with 15 million euros.

The City and the Supporting Foundation would establish a joint real estate company for the construction. The City would own 84 percent and the Supporting Foundation 16 percent of the company. This company would take a 35-million-euro loan for the construction. The loan payments, fees and interest amounting to 33 million euros in 20 years would be covered by the Guggenheim Helsinki Supporting Foundation with leases paid to the real estate company. The City would give a guarantee to the loan.

According to the new plan, the City of Helsinki would be the principal owner of the museum building and cover the cost of building maintenance but would not finance the museum’s operation in any other way.

The building maintenance cost would be about 6.5 million euros per year, comprising interest on invested capital, depreciation, internal leases for the site and building, and the real estate maintenance cost.

The museum operation would be financed by the Guggenheim Helsinki Supporting Foundation with its income, private funding, and the annual Government subsidy for museums. Private sources would also be used to cover the license and administrative fees paid to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, which would total 20 million U.S. dollars, that is, approximately 18.4 million euros, in 20 years. In addition, the Supporting Foundation would invest 15 million euros in the museum building and cover the total cost of the loan with lease payments.

The City’s role is now better defined and costs would be lower

In comparison with the earlier proposals, the City of Helsinki’s role is now better defined and the costs incurred by the City would be lower. In the new proposal, the City’s share of ownership in the museum building would be markedly larger than in the plan negotiated with the Government, although the investment sum would be the same.

Private funding secured by the Guggenheim Helsinki Supporting Foundation is now markedly higher than in earlier proposals, totaling 66.4 million euros.

Viljanen expresses her gratitude to the private sources for their strong support for the museum project.

“This is an exceptional project: no other cultural project in Helsinki has attracted this much private funding. Private money would cover no less than 66.4 million euros of the investment. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the private sources of funding committed to the museum project, who make it possible for Helsinki to further this cause.”

A new assessment underscores the museum’s positive economic impact

According to an assessment made by the City of Helsinki, the museum would bring more tourism to Helsinki and would increase the annual spending by visitors by 16 million euros even by a conservative estimate.

During construction, the museum would increase the City’s tax income by 24 million euros per year and boost employment by about 1,200 man-years. The increase in tax income generated by the museum operation and tourism would be 7 million euros per year, and the impact on employment would be 400 man-years.

“It is important to make investments that generate income and increase tourism in the city, even in challenging economic times,” Deputy Mayor Viljanen affirms.

“The assessment of the museum’s impact made by the City proves that a cultural investment is a good way to boost employment and increase the City’s income.”

According to various surveys, Helsinki lags behind other Nordic capitals, according to such measures as hotel overnights.

“The Guggenheim museum would strengthen the international recognition of Finland and Helsinki, and it would improve our position as a tourism destination. The museum would make a valuable contribution to the art scene of the Helsinki metropolitan area. The area would obtain a center of contemporary art that would be exceptionally large even by international standards and would raise Helsinki’s profile as a city of art and design,” Viljanen says.

The proposal working group states that the museum would be a good investment, and it would benefit the metropolitan area and the larger region.

Cooperation with other museums and cultural players

In the course of the proposal preparation, the City of Helsinki has emphasized that the museum should be a public space open to citizens.

“The forefront of the museum is an open public waterfront area, and the inner courtyard and the avenue inside the museum complex are defined in the contract proposal as an open and free-of-charge city space,” Viljanen points out.

“The museum should maintain a gallery for ‘free art’ and even so create something new for the Helsinki art scene. Guggenheim Helsinki would work in close cooperation with other Helsinki museums, as a part of the local art museum scene. There would be cooperation with other art and cultural organizations both in Finland and internationally.”

The City of Helsinki proceeds with the matter so that the City Board will consider the new proposal and the attached proposal for a contract on project implementation at its meeting of Monday, November 7. The final decision on the matter will be made by the City Council, to which the contract proposal will be presented because of the importance of the matter.

If the City Council approves the museum project, the process to amend the detailed plan for the site would be carried out and a project plan be prepared in 2017–2019. Construction could begin no earlier than in 2019.



Art in the city selected as the winner of the Guggenheim architecture competition

The historic Guggenheim Helsinki architecture competition has been won by Paris-based architects’ office Moreau Kusunoki Architectes with its entry called Art in the City.

The Guggenheim Helsinki Design Competition, which began in June 2014 and generated a record-making 1,715 submissions from more than 77 countries, reached its conclusion today, as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation announced the winning concept: a design that invites visitors to engage with museum artwork and programs across a gathering of linked pavilions and plazas organized around an interior street. Clad in locally sourced charred timber and glass, the environmentally sensitive building would comprise nine low-lying volumes and one lighthouse-like tower, connected to the nearby Observatory Park by a new pedestrian footbridge and served by a promenade along Helsinki’s South Harbor. The Guggenheim revealed that the design, which was one of six finalists, was submitted by Moreau Kusunoki Architectes, a firm founded in Paris in 2011.

“I extend the Guggenheim’s warmest congratulations to Moreau Kusuoki for having achieved the design goals of this competition with such elegance, sensitivity, and clarity,” said Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation.

In a joint statement, Nicolas Moreau and Hiroko Kusunoki said, “Thanks to the bold vision of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the City of Helsinki, the international open competition process offered a unique challenge for practices around the world to partake in this exceptional project. Such events represent great hope for architects. We are delighted and honored to have been selected from among 1,715 entries. We are happy to share this victory with all the people we work with: our staff, our partners,
and our clients. This great adventure brought us energy, joy, and dreams. The adventure now continues with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, the people of Helsinki, and lovers of architecture and art.”

"I would like to express my thanks to the Guggenheim Foundation for organizing a design competition of unprecedented scale in Finland and internationally. I also wish to thank all the architects who took part in this competition for their interpretations of the possible futures for Helsinki's South Harbor. I am glad for the lively discussion sparked by the design competition and extend my warmest congratulations to the winner. A Guggenheim Helsinki could have a significant, positive effect on Helsinki and Finland,” said
Helsinki Mayor Jussi Pajunen.

More information:

Guggenheim Helsinki web pages


An Architectural Competition for Guggenheim Helsinki Museum started

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s Architectural Competition for the proposed Guggenheim Helsinki museum started on 4 June, 2014. The open, international architectural competition is expected to arouse great interest. It is the first time that the Guggenheim Foundation  has sought a design for a new museum through an open competition.

The Guggenheim is organizing the architectural competition in consultation with the City of Helsinki, the State of Finland, and the Finnish Association of Architects (SAFA). The competition is managed by the London-based firm Malcolm Reading Consultants.

Anonymous submissions for Stage One of the competition are due September 10, 2014. An eleven member jury chaired by Mark Wigley, professor and Dean of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, will meet in Helsinki and select six finalists from the submissions received during Stage One.

Submissions will be judged on the basis of their architectural design, relationship to the site and the cityscape, practicality for users, sustainability (including criteria for the use of materials), and feasibility. An online exhibition will enable the public to view all entries in Stage One.

In November 2014, the six finalists will be announced and Stage Two of the competition will begin. The winner will be announced in June 2015. The winner will be awarded €100,000 (approximately $136,000) and the five runner-ups will each receive €55,000 (approximately $75,000).

During and following the competition period, the Guggenheim will continue its ongoing series of public programs, Guggenheim Helsinki Live, to invite discussion and exploration of the ideas behind the proposed museum project.

The City of Helsinki and the State of Finland are expected to deliberate on whether to proceed with the construction and development of the museum after the competition concludes.

For further information, visit the competition website:



City Board approves site reservation for Guggenheim museum architectural competition

At its meeting on January 13, the Helsinki City Board decided to reserve a site for the Solomon R. Guggenheim foundation for an architectural competition for a potential Guggenheim Helsinki museum. The site reservation concerns the Makasiini Terminal area of roughly 18 520 square metres in the Helsinki South Harbour.

As part of the conditions of the decision, the Guggenheim foundation organises, prepares, schedules and allocates the resources to the architectural competition for the museum and is responsible for all the costs related to the competition. The competition must be organised as an international two-phase design competition, in which the first phase is open.

According to the conditions, the planning of the competition and the setting up of a competition schedule must be done in cooperation with the City of Helsinki City Planning Department, Real Estate Department, Port of Helsinki and Public Works Department, as well as with the Finnish government.

Moreover, the site reservation does not bind the city with regard to the assignment of the plot, as the decision on the potential assignment of the plot and the construction of the museum will be taken separately after the competition.

At the same time, the City Board decided that during the competition, the City of Helsinki will commission an own report on the economic profitability of the project.

The City Board decision announcement, January 13 (in Finnish)



A new proposal for Guggenheim Helsinki presented

The Guggenheim Foundation presented a new proposal for founding a Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki on Tuesday, 24 September. 

Guggenheim Helsinki Revised Proposal 2013 (pdf)

Press release: Guggenheim Foundation Presents A New Proposal for a Guggenheim Helsinki

The new proposal has a website with additional information at


City Board votes against the proposal on Guggenheim Helsinki

The Helsinki City Board rejected in its meeting of 2 May the proposal of Helsinki Mayor Jussi Pajunen to proceed to the second phase of the project to build a new Guggenheim museum in Helsinki. The Board voted 8-to-7 against the proposal.

The votes against the proposal came from the Board members representing the SDP (the Social Democratic Party), the Left Alliance and the Finns, as well as three Green Board members. The Board members in favour of the proposal were the representatives of the National Coalition Party (centre-right) and the Swedish People’s Party as well as one Green representative.

According to the Mayor’s proposal, the second phase of the Guggenheim project would have involved an international architectural competition on the museum to be built in Helsinki’s South Harbour, and the City of Helsinki would have signed a letter of intent with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation on the establishment of the museum. The City Board rejected this plan.

Helsinki commissioned the Guggenheim Foundation in January 2011 to produce a feasibility study on the possibility to build a Guggenheim museum in Helsinki. The study, presented in January 2012, recommended building the museum at a central location in Helsinki’s South Harbour.



Guggenheim Helsinki: Concept and Development Study

Report Proposes Location, Purpose, Financing and Governance of a Museum and Recommends Moving Forward with an Architectural Competition. The report proposes that a museum would be built on a City-owned site along the South Harbor waterfront, where the Kanava Terminal Building currently stands.

Concept and Development Study for a Guggenheim museum  in Helsinki (A4 format pdf)

Concept and Development Study for a Guggenheim museum  in Helsinki (A3 format pdf)

Guggenheim Helsinki: konsepti- ja kehitysselvitys (pdf)

Guggenheim Helsingfors: koncept- och utvecklingsstudie (pdf)


Photo: Pertti Nisonen / City of Helsinki

Press release
English (pdf)
Finnish (pdf)
Swedish (pdf)

Presentation by Mayor Pajunen (ppt) 

Economic summary
English (pdf)
Finnish (pdf)

Watch The Presentation seminar held at The Finlandia Hall 10.1.2012.


Photo: Pertti Nisonen / City of Helsinki

Press Photos


Helsinki Concept and Development Study: Project Update

October 2011
Finnish (Word document)

May 2011
Finnish (Word document)
Swedish (Word document)


Helsinki commissions the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to explore the possibility of a Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki


Press release


Watch The Press Conference  held at The Helsinki City Hall 18.1.2011.

Janne Gallen-Kallela-Sirén, Tuula Haatainen, Richard Armstrong, Jussi Pajunen, Ari Wiseman. Photo: Pertti Nisonen.
Janne Gallen-Kallela-Sirén, Tuula Haatainen, Richard Armstrong, Jussi Pajunen, Ari Wiseman.


Lisätietoa / Supporting documents

Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation Basic Facts Website

Helsinki Basic Facts
Helsinki: an Overview
Helsinki Press Photos

Finland Basic Facts


Jussi Pajunen, Mayor, City of Helsinki (bio  image)
Tuula Haatainen, Deputy Mayor, City of Helsinki (bio image)
Janne Gallen-Kallela-Sirén, Director, Helsinki Art Museum (bio image)
Richard Armstrong, Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum (bio image)
Juan Ignacio Vidarte, Deputy Director and Chief Officer for Global Strategies, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation (bio image)
Ari Wiseman, Deputy Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation (bio image)

Selected Helsinki Culture Links

Helsinki Art Museum

International programs in visual arts, theater, dance and opera

World Design Capital Helsinki 2012

Design District Helsinki (25 streets and 190 points-of-contact for fashion, jewelry, interior design, antiques, creative industries and cafés) 

Helsinki Festival 
Flow Festival 
DocPoint Helsinki Documentary Film Festival:

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