Helsinki votes down building Guggenheim Museum
HELSINKI (AFP) – The Helsinki city council has rejected plans to build a Guggenheim Museum in the Finnish capital, mainly due to its high cost, city officials announced Thursday.
The project, presented by the city’s centre-right mayor Jussi Pajunen with an estimated cost of 140 million euros ($184 million), was turned down in a close vote of 8 to 7 on Wednesday, an official statement said.
The leader of the Greens on the city council, Ville Ylikari, found the project too expensive, and added that: “Finland should concentrate on exporting, rather than importing, culture.”
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation had handed over its concept and development study for a new museum to Helsinki in January, which supporters said would position the city as a Nordic cultural capital.
Guggenheim’s world-famous network includes museums in New York, Bilbao, Berlin and Venice, and another under construction in Abu Dhabi.
While those who voted in favour of the museum also argued it would create jobs, Helsinki’s mayor did not bemoan its defeat.
“We had a high-level debate on culture and that is good for the city,” Pajunen said.
The Guggenheim Foundation however expressed disappointment in the decision.
“I am surprised and disappointed but ready to continue the fight,” the foundation’s director in New York, Richard Armstrong, told the daily Helsingin Sanomat.
He hoped the museum plan could be revived after the election of a new city council in October.
A group of about 100 Finnish artists have proposed an alternative project, dubbed Checkpoint Helsinki. The group claims that the creation of a Guggenheim Museum was motivated more by tourism than the development of contemporary art in Finland.
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