Helsinki nixes Guggenheim museum bid after 6-year row

Helsinki nixes Guggenheim museum bid after 6-year row

PanARMENIAN.Net - Helsinki's city council buried Thursday, December 1 a contested plan to build a museum bearing the name of the U.S.-based Guggenheim Foundation, primarily due to the price tag, AFP said.

Opponents of the museum said one of the Finnish capital's best locations facing the presidential palace in the port would have been handed over to the "McDonald's of art", referring to the Guggenheim chain of museums in cities including New York, Bilbao and Venice.

But supporters of the project argued the planned site was being used as a parking lot, and insisted the museum could have led to a tourism boom.

After a marathon debate that lasted for several hours until the early hours of Thursday, 53 of the council's delegates voted against the museum and 32 in favour.

Efforts to build a Guggenheim museum in Helsinki began back in 2011, but the project has been plagued by funding problems and political opposition.

In 2015, a French studio, Moreau Kusunoki Architectes, won an international design competition organised to give form to the project, with a concept grouping sombre rectangular pavilions and a tower resembling a lighthouse.

The competition's jury found the design "deeply respectful of the site" but during the city council meeting some delegates called it a "bunker".

Most opponents were concerned about the museum's price tag, estimated at 130 million euros ($137.8 million), of which the city of Helsinki would have paid 80 million, while also having to secure a loan of a further 35 million euros.

The U.S.-based Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation would have charged some 18.4 million euros ($19.5 million) over 20 years for lending its famous brand to the museum.

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