Was the Guggenheim Museum Helsinki too rich for Finnish blood? Apparently yes. The city announced on its website that it has rejected the Guggenheim’s proposal to build the cultural facility. The Helsinki City Board, a vetting committee of 15 municipal politicians, voted eight to seven against putting the project forward.
The reason cited was a weak economy. But Prime Minister Paavo Arhinmaki was also sceptical about the project’s funding, noting that under the terms of the Guggenheim’s proposal, taxpayers would end up paying close to €100m of the constructions costs. Writing on his blog Arhinmaki said: “It is worth considering whether Finnish taxpayers should finance a rich, multinational foundation."
Richard Armstrong, the director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, said the museum would have benefited the city, especially given its strong interest in art and design and its plans to develop the harbour. “When the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation was invited to conduct the concept and development study, we accepted the commission in the belief that Helsinki offers many exciting possibilities. Over the course of a year, our team confirmed this initial premise, concluding that a Guggenheim museum would contribute significantly to Helsinki's cultural landscape," he said is a statement on Wednesday after the decision.
"We would have liked to develop the idea for the museum one step further, through an international open architectural competition - but as we emphasised from the start, our study had no predetermined outcome. All the same, we remain committed to the possibility of being in Helsinki."