Guggenheim proposes $178 million Helsinki museum

Tue Jan 10, 2012 9:36am EST
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HELSINKI (Reuters) - The Guggenheim wants to build a 140 million euro ($178 mln) museum on the Helsinki waterfront as it expands its satellite of contemporary art galleries to new locations such as Bilbao in Spain and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, which oversees the original, Frank Lloyd Wright-designed museum in New York as well as four overseas sites, proposed that it and the Finnish capital jointly develop a new museum.

The Guggenheim chose Helsinki due to strong local interest and tradition in art and design, as well as the city's plans to develop its harbor properties, it said in a proposal announced on Tuesday.

"We were quite interested and excited by what we saw here - a population that is highly educated, which is very important for the success of the museum and for potential audience development," Ari Wiseman, the Guggenheim's deputy director, told Reuters.

Wiseman, along with city officials, presented the proposal at the landmark Finlandia Hall designed by Alvar Aalto, after a year-long feasibility study.

The Guggenheim also noted the city lacked a significant modern art collection, a gap it said the museum could fill and help draw tourists.

It proposed a museum be built on a city-owned site in Helsinki's south harbor, and recommended the city move forward with an architectural competition.

The museum could open in 2018 after around three years of development, it said, adding that its 140 million euro estimate includes the construction and design of the building. The museum would also need public, private and corporate funding to cover operating costs.

The city is due to decide in the next few weeks whether to go ahead with the project.

(Reporting by Ritsuko Ando and Eero Vassinen, editing by Paul Casciato)

<p>Visitors observe the sculpture "Princess X" by Constantin Brancusi during a preview of "Brancusi Serra" at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao October 7, 2011. REUTERS/Vincent West</p>