Museum versus car park

Straight to the point: no museum. The car park won. For the moment at least. For the proposed museum site being a prime spot along Helsinki’s waterfront, project developers will undoubtedly ensure cars parked there will soon also be ditched.


Proposed Helsinki Guggenheim

Modern art lovers in favour of a new branch of the Guggenheim Museum to be opened in Helsinki apparently received threats. As the project was estimated to cost 150 million Euro – and estimates usually turn out to be far too low – it is not difficult to understand feelings ran high.

One can not but sympathise with the various groups who ensured this project was axed. For a start, the Guggenheim Foundation based in the US, was to charge over 18 million Euro per year for nearly a quarter of a century, just to allow its name to be linked to this proposed museum! For this reason alone, the project should have been scrapped long ago.

In 2015, Paris architects won an international competition to uglify Helsinki’s cityscape. One wonders: why not have Finnish architects create a modern art museum? After all, it’s not that Finland lacks talents, daring architects, is totally averse to modern buildings – bold, beautiful, or downright ugly.

Though the Paris architects modified and revised their city-uglification plans, it was Helsinki’s council which finally torpedoed these. Though it did need over five hours, Wednesday evening.


Bilbao Guggenheim Museum

Undoubtedly, the exorbitant money-spinning “deal” with the US Guggenheim Foundation helped. What also ensured the ditching, was the fact that over 50% of the building costs would have had to be paid by Helsinki. (Not to mention future exploitation and maintenance bills.) For state funding was blocked earlier by Finland’s nationalist party.


Venice Guggenheim Museum

Some in favour of a Helsinki Guggenheim Museum, a third branch after the Spanish and Italian ones, claim the museum would have been built if only the financial crisis had not happened. If so, it’s probably the only good outcome of this crisis.

Since 2010, Finland’s economy has not been doing well. Its government continues imposing multibillion austerity measures. Anyone with a scrap of common sense, would have shelved a plan predicted to cost at least 150 million Euro, long ago.

So: no ugly buildings but a car park opposite Finland’s beautiful presidential palace. Or at least for the time being.

Which doesn’t prevent one wondering: how about inviting a few budding local artists to create modern art using car parts and wrecks there? Or try setting up a Helsinki open-air MOBA? Surely there must be plenty cheap alternatives with a link to modern art, which should not cost Helsinki the earth, yet draw tourists?

Jon Henly: Helsinki Guggenheim Museum
Nina Siegal: Guggenheim Helsinki Museum 
An overview of Helsinki’s many museums
MOBA: Museum of Bad Art


One thought on “Museum versus car park

  1. My opinion is that winners are taxpayers. Helsinki is full of great museums and this is not enough, there more in my beautiful country, even unique in the whole world.

    Have good day!

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